As the losses continue to pile up in the midst of another dreadful season, the games have a way of melding together. To fans, each defeat becomes somehow a reflection of the last, few of them ever really being different or more disappointing than the others.
This one was.
The fourth loss of the 2004 football season was the worst for the Owls, a 70-16 thrashing by Bowling Green at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday. It was worse than the second-half collapse at Toledo, or the opening season defeat to Virginia. This one left most of the Owls (1-4) speechless.
“I don’t know what to say,” coach Bobby Wallace said. “I haven’t been through a day defensively like this before, ever. We couldn’t stop Bowling Green. I just know whatever I say in a situation like this, I’ll only regret.”
The players reacted in different ways after the game, some solemn and quiet, a few angry and disgusted. Senior linebacker Troy Bennett was composed but terse, while senior safety Sadeke Konte was flat-out humiliated.
“It’s me,” Konte said emphatically when asked for the primary cause of the loss. “It’s my missed assignments, my mistakes, my decisions. I played okay today, if you look at the stat sheet, but I had a lot of busts that killed us for touchdowns or big gains.”
It seemed an unfair judgment after such a complete breakdown, but Konte was insistent.
“It’s not unfair. I can’t blame anybody else until I take responsibility for my actions, and we can’t point at the coaches until everybody takes responsibility for their actions,” he said.
The chance of one or even a few players being solely responsible for such a complete collapse is slim, but the point was valid. Each player seems to be trying to solve all the problems on his own, from the head coach down to the least-used player. Konte said, if everyone is focused on their own job and does it correctly, losses like this can be avoided.
“We have to focus more, pay attention, and do what we’re told,” he added. “We’ve got to play like we’re coached, because we are being coached. But we need to do it.”
RECORDS AND FIRSTS
Bowling Green’s offense has grown into one of the most feared in the nation in the past four years, but Saturday it cleared the record books. The Falcons (2-2) scored 70 points for the game and 42 by halftime, one point short of the school record set in 1952.
The Falcons also produced a school-record 442 yards of total offense in the first half.
The Falcons gained 639 yards of total offense, 106 yards coming on the ground from junior running back P.J. Pope, who before yesterday had not topped the 100-yard mark in 10 games dating back to last season.
Sophomore quarterback Omar Jacobs joined the fray with 367 yards passing and four touchdowns. Owls’ quarterbacks Walter Washington and Mike McGann, sharing time for the first time this season, combined for 197 yards and one touchdown. Washington admitted he had some difficulty making adjustments.
“It was hard for me to make the transition to [not playing every play],” Washington said. “And I didn’t handle that transition well.”
The 54-point deficit was the largest margin of defeat for the Owls since 1999, when Miami shut them out, 55-0, in the final game of the season… Junior college transfer Brian Allbrooks made his first start at wideout as an Owl. He caught six passes for 94 yards, but drew flags for a false start and holding. He also provided the Owls with a scary moment after receiver Phil Goodman dove to recover an apparent fumble by Allbrooks in the second quarter.
Allbrooks was ruled down by contact, but Goodman lay on the field for a few minutes and appeared hurt while sitting on the sideline shortly after… Washington is still the starting quarterback, but McGann played much more than the two or three series Wallace predicted and fared better than his counterpart. McGann completed 7-of-12 passes for 165 yards, and a touchdown to wide receiver Travis Shelton.