James Knapke's 2-yard touchdown pass to Roger Lewis with just nine seconds remaining gave the Bowling Green State University football team a 45-42 win over Indiana University Saturday afternoon (Sept. 13) at Doyt Perry Stadium.
With the win, the Falcons improve to 2-1 on the season. The Hoosiers drop to 1-1 on the year.
The Falcons had not hosted a Big Ten team at Doyt Perry Stadium since 2008 and had never beaten one on their home turf. Both of those facts changed on a sunny Saturday as the Brown and Orange captured a shootout.
Bowling Green's up-tempo offense dazzled a near-sellout crowd of 23,717 by racking up a school-record 113 plays. Knapke, in just his second career start, threw for 46 completions in 73 attempts. Both marks are also brand new BGSU records.
The Falcons won the opening coin toss for the third consecutive week and elected to receive. Ronnie Moore began the contest with a stirring 41-yard kickoff return, and Knapke led the offense on a 14-play drive that resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Tyler Tate.
The BGSU defense protected their 3-0 lead by forcing Indiana to punt from the Falcons' 43-yard line. On 4th-and-1 from their own 42, head coach Dino Babers decided to gamble early and tried for the first down. Knapke's pass to Chris Pohlman was incomplete as Pohlman was hit as the ball arrived, and IU took over in BGSU territory.
Once again, the Falcons' defense rose to the challenge and stuffed Hoosier running back Tevin Coleman on 4th-and-1 at the BGSU 33. However, on the next play, Fred Coppet fumbled and the Hoosiers recovered. Three plays later, Indiana quarterback Nate Sudfeld dove into the end zone from one yard out for a 7-3 lead.
Indiana quickly regained possession after BGSU failed to secure a first down on their next drive. The Hoosiers navigated 81 yards in eight plays and scored on a 22-yard pass from Sudfeld to J-Shun Harris II. Just four seconds into the second quarter, Indiana held a 14-3 lead; it would prove to be their biggest of the game.
Bowling Green's offense controlled the ball for most of the second quarter but were unable to break into the Indiana end zone. However, Tate continued to be reliable, and BGSU scored field goals of 38, 45 and 47 yards on consecutive drives. While BGSU was cutting Indiana's lead to 14-12, the Hoosiers failed to move past midfield and helped the Falcons by booming punts of just 24 and 10 yards.
With less than two minutes remaining in the first half, Indiana moved to the BGSU 22 but once again failed to convert a 4th-and-1 play when Nate Locke and Jhalil-Nashid Croley stuffed Chris Covington for a two-yard loss. The Falcons then ran out the clock to take their 14-12 deficit to halftime.
After the teams returned for the second half, both offenses took over. The two sides combined for nine touchdowns and no punts. They ran 101 plays and accrued 735 yards. Of those, 63 and 375 came from BGSU.
Indiana took the second half kickoff and raced downfield to the BGSU 21 before their drive stalled. Aaron Del Grosso missed a 39-yard field goal attempt wide left, and BGSU had the opportunity to claim a lead.
The Falcons took complete advantage of the opportunity as Knapke guided BGSU on a 10-play, 78-yard drive. He completed five passes on the drive, and the final one was a 40-yard strike to Ronnie Moore for a touchdown and a 19-14 lead.
Once again, Babers gambled, this time with an onside kick. The Hoosiers recovered, and Coleman raced 28 yards on the third play of the drive for a touchdown as Indiana took a 21-19 advantage.
Knapke made his only crucial mistake of the game on the next drive, when he threw short to the right side and found Indiana's Nick Mangieri for an interception. Indiana took the ball just 29 yards from the end zone, but the Falcons' defense kept composure. Rather than attempt another field goal, Indiana attempted another 4th down play, but Sudfeld's pass fell incomplete.
Bowling Green's offense shook off the turnover and marched for another go-ahead score. This 10-play, 78-yard drive was assisted by a crucial defensive pass interference call on 3rd down from the Falcons' 38. Knapke completed four passes on the drive, and Greene carried the ball on the final three plays. Greene's final run came from five yards out and gave BGSU a 26-21 edge.
The teams traded touchdowns on their next three possessions, with huge scoring runs of 46 and 31 yards by Coleman and a one-yard plunge on 4th-and-goal from Fred Coppet. Indiana led 35-32 with 12:52 remaining in the game.
The Falcons offense again drove onto Indiana's side of the field but stalled at the 35. Knapke's pass to Burbrink on fourth down fell incomplete, and Indiana had a chance to possibly put the game away.
The Hoosiers drove into scoring position, but BGSU's defense rose up one more time. On first down from the BGSU 22, Coleman rushed up the middle to the 15, where he was met by Charlie Walker. Walker knocked the ball loose, and Ryland Ward recovered for the Falcons. It was the sixth time that Indiana had failed to score after possessing the ball on BGSU's side of the field.
Knapke followed the turnover by taking BGSU on another long scoring drive. This 10-play effort, which lasted 3:49, went 88 yards. Knapke was a perfect 6-for-6 and ran twice, one of which converted a third down. The final pass was a rainbow down the left sideline to Ryan Burbrink for a 31-yard touchdown and a 39-35 lead.
Indiana responded, and with 2:04 left, Sudfeld scored his second one-yard touchdown run of the game. After the ensuing kickoff, the Falcons had to go 88 yards in order to score a game-winning touchdown.
The game rested in Knapke's hands, and he did not blink. Seven completions pushed the ball to the Indiana 31 with less than 30 seconds to play. The Falcons faced a 4th-and-2, but Indiana committed pass interference on consecutive plays to give BGSU 1st-and-goal at the 2. After one incompletion, Knapke drilled Lewis with an inside slant pass for a touchdown and a 45-42 lead with just nine seconds left.
Indiana failed to score in two plays, and the celebration began.
Bowling Green finished the game with 571 yards after their 113 plays. They rushed for 176 yards and passed for 395 more. They were also lightly penalized, committing only four for 42 yards. Indiana rang up 582 yards on 78 plays, including 347 passing and 235 rushing. However, they were penalized 11 times for 143 yards.
Knapke set school records with 46 completions and 73 attempts. He threw for each of BGSU's 395 yards and threw three touchdowns to just one interception. Roger Lewis caught 16 passes for 149 yards and a score. Heath Jackson added eight catches for 48 yards, while Burbrink and Moore each caught six passes, including a touchdown for each.
Greene recorded another 100-yard game by piling up 123 yards on 24 carries. Knapke added 35 yards on the ground. Both Greene and Coppet scored rushing touchdowns for the Falcons.
Indiana's Sudfeld was 31-for-41 for 341 yards and a touchdown. Shane Wynn led the Hoosiers with 10 catches for 139 yards. Coleman carried the ball 24 times for 190 yards and three touchdowns.
The Falcons will get another crack at a Big Ten team next week when Bowling Green (2-1) travels to Madison Wisconsin to face the Wisconsin Badgers. That game will begin at 12:00 p.m. ET and will be televised nationally on ESPN2.