Bowling Green keeps bowl hopes alive

November, 4, 2009
11/04/09
10:39
AM ET
Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson

Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson spent the bye week talking to his players about the importance of finishing in the fourth quarter.

Six of the Falcons' eight games had been decided in the fourth quarter and they’d only won two of them.

But against Buffalo on Tuesday, Bowling Green turned it around.

The Falcons scored two touchdowns in the final period, including the game-winning pass and catch from Tyler Sheehan to Freddie Barnes with 35 seconds remaining to give the Falcons a 30-29 win.

“We just kept saying that we were going to win this game,” Clawson said. “Our players have been in that situation a lot and when they’re in that position, they don’t panic.”

Clawson credited his team’s defense for playing better in the second half. After allowing 21 points to Buffalo in the first half, the Falcons' defense buckled down, allowed eight points and gave the offense a chance.

P.J. Mahone’s blocked punt in the fourth quarter set up the first touchdowns of the comeback -- a 4-yard run by Sheehan -- and momentum started to shift from there.

“I felt the momentum shift, but I can’t tell you we had it,” Clawson said.

Clawson’s apprehension in the fourth quarter was justifiable. So many times this season Bowling Green has been in striking distance only to falter at the end. Only games against Troy and Kent State worked out in the Falcons' favor, and the Kent State outcome took two scores in the final four and a half minutes to erase a 12-point deficit.

With three games remaining and the Falcons sitting at 4-5, there’s still hope for a bowl berth. The MAC has three guaranteed bowls and a secondary bowl slot with the EagleBank Bowl, should the ACC not have a ninth bowl-eligible team. Currently, it doesn’t look like the ACC is going to fill all of its slots. There’s also a possibility of an at-large berth.

Temple, Ohio and Central Michigan all are bowl-eligible. Kent State and Northern Illinois have five wins each. Bowling Green likely would need seven wins to guarantee a bowl berth, which means sweeping their final three games against rival Miami-Ohio, Akron and Toledo. Miami-Ohio and Akron have combined for two wins this season and Toledo has been struggling at 4-5.

“This is what we needed to do to keep our season alive,” Clawson said. “It was a big win. Once you get to November, you fight to keep your season alive and your goals alive and certainly last night allowed us to keep a lot of our preseason goals alive.”

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