Sophomore linebacker James Sanford helped seal the win, forcing a fumble with 1:46 remaining True freshman defensive back Clinton Stephens recovered and the Bowling Green offense ran out the clock from there.
With the win, Bowling Green improves to 3-2 (1-0 MAC), while Massachusetts falls to 0-5 (0-1 MAC).
Travis Greene, who ran for 110 yards on 20 touches, led the Falcon rushing attack. Fred Coppet also contributed nicely with 78 yards on the ground on 15 carries.
While the 668 yards of total offense for BGSU is the most that UMass has ever allowed, five of the Falcons' six touchdown drives took less than two minutes off the clock.
Bowling Green's defense forced a season-high four turnovers. Three Falcons – linebacker Gabe Martin, defensive back Dernard Turner and Sanford – all had a team-high nine tackles. Along with the forced fumble, Sanford also recovered a fumble and registered two sacks.
Defensive back Brain Sutton chipped in with eight tackles, and four other Falcons – defensive back Jude Adjei-Barimah, defensive linemen Bryan Thomas and Jhalil-Nashid Croley, and Martin – all recorded a sack apiece.
The Falcon defense held Massachusetts to just 49 rushing yards for the game.
UMass quarterback Blake Frohnapfel completed 36-of-61 passes for the home team, and Tajae Sharpe caught a game-high 13 passes for 179 yards.
UMass scored a touchdown on its second drive of the game as Frohnapfel found Jalen Williams on a 60-yard TD play.
The Orange and Brown countered with three straight scores to take a 13-7 lead. A Moore 27-yard touchdown reception at 2:57 of the first quarter was sandwiched by a pair of Tyler Take field goals – the first from 21 yards out, while the second was good from 33 yards. Moore’s TD came three plays after Taylor Royster recovered a UMass fumble. Tate’s first field goal also followed the recovery of a Minutemen fumble by Sanford.
The two teams then traded multiple touchdowns to end the first half. The hosts took a 14-13 lead on a 32-yard TD reception by Rodney Mills at 11:55 of the second period.
Bowling Green grabbed a 20-14 lead with 9:47 remaining in the first half when Greene rushed for a four-yard score. Coppet rushes of 16 and 31 yards set up the score.
Shadrach Abrokway\s one-yard run culminated a seven –play, 76-yard UMass drive as the Minutemen leapfrogged back in front, 21-20, at 6:48. However, Knapke orchestrated an eight-play, 73-yard drive that was capped by a 35-yard reception by Burbrink after a nice QB pump fake. Tate’s PAT was blocked, leaving BGSU in front, 26-21, at the break.
Two of BGSU's touchdown drives in the first half took under three minutes, while all three lasted under four minutes.
Knapke completed 23-of-35 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions at the break. Burbrink caught nine passes for 118 yards and a score, while Moore also had a touchdown and hauled in six catches for 94 yards in the first half.
Lewis became the third receiver to catch a touchdown in the ballgame after Knapke found the true freshman for a 52-yard score to open second half scoring. The seven-play drive covered 96 yards, only took 1:20 off the clock and gave BGSU a 33-21 lead.
It was, however, UMass who held the advantage after the third quarter, as the Minutemen scored 14 consecutive points to take a 35-33 lead.
First, Alex Kenney got behind the Falcons defense on an 80-yard pass play from Frohnapfel. After an interception by Khary Bailey-Smith, UMass took over at the BGSU 39 and scored on Sharpe’s 18-yard reception three plays later.
Down 35-30, Bowling Green scored touchdowns on its first two drives of the final period.
Greene’s 25-yard run at 12:55 put the visitors back in front. A Nick Johnson interception on the Minutemen’s next drive again put BGSU in business again at its own 46. Moore’s 22-yard run on a jet sweep and a Tate PAT gave Bowling Green a 47-35 advantage with 9:38 left to play.
UMass made it onto the scoreboard one more time with 3:22 remaining on a Sharpe five-yard catch to complete a seven-play, 68-yard drive. That left BGSU in front, 47-42 , However, Clint Stephens’ fumble recovery three plays into the Minutemen’s final drive sealed the verdict.
The Falcons will return to Doyt. L Perry Stadium on Oct. 4 at 3:30 p.m. to face MAC-East foe Buffalo. UMass travels to Miami (2:30 p.m. ET) in a battle of winless teams.
(BG Athletics/MRO Staff)