KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The football team entered Saturday’s game against Western Michigan 0-5 in the series versus the Broncos.
They left Waldo Stadium 0-6 in the series, as they fell, 16-3.
The Owls couldn’t establish a running game, a theme that has rung true more often than not this season.
The running game accumulated just 54 yards on 27 carries. Combine that with sophomore quarterback Vaughn Charlton misfiring on 19 of his 25 pass attempts and that doesn’t bode well for many points being scored.
Charlton said mistakes at inopportune times hurt his team yet again.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We made mistakes at the wrong time and had trouble moving the ball.”
Charlton hit the nail on the head, as the Owls only achieved six first downs the entire game. It took the Owls until the 9:35 mark of the second quarter to move the chains for the first time.
It didn’t get much better throughout the whole game.
The Broncos defense limited the Owls to 146 yards of total offense, while the offense piled up 438 yards of total offense.
Coach Al Golden was not pleased with his team’s performance.
“I don’t think we played a very good football game. … I don’t think anyone played well today,” Golden said. “When I go back and look at the tape some people may stand out, but I don’t think anyone played well today.”
One of those players who might stand out is junior defensive tackle Terrance Knighton.
Knighton notched his first field goal block of his career on an extra point attempt early in the second quarter and added the second of his career right before the half was over.
In addition to exploding through the line on both of his blocks, Knighton was a disruptive force all afternoon with nine tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss.
But his accomplishments were bittersweet, at best, due to the loss.
“It’s hard to be excited about blocking two kicks after a loss like this,” Knighton said. “We came into this game expecting to win. And finishing the season like this does not leave a good taste in my mouth.”
Freshman linebacker Amara Kamara ended his freshman campaign with five tackles, all solo, including one for loss, and notched his first career interception.
The Owls’ offense converted Kamara’s interception into three points, with sophomore Jake Brownell converting a 24-yard field goal with 6:35 remaining in the first half to cut Western Michigan’s lead to 6-3.
Western Michigan got on the board with a 5-yard pass from quarterback Tim Hiller to tight end Branden Ledbetter with 12:46 left in the second quarter, immediately preceding Knighton’s first block.
The Broncos put another touchdown on the board on their first drive of the second half. The 5-play, 61-yard drive was capped with a one-yard plunge by tailback Mark Bonds, who became the latest back to top the century mark versus the Owls. The Owls came into the game ranked first in the MAC in rushing defense.
Bonds barreled his way to 105 yards on 24 carries.
A week after running more than 80 offensive plays, the Owls were limited to 53 plays against Western Michigan and ended the season the opposite of the way they wanted to.
Golden said this game won’t dictate the entire season, even though it’s a tough loss to take.
“I’m not going to let this game be the only thing I remember,” Golden said. “I’m not pleased with it, but in terms of the body of work, we won four and we had another one up at Connecticut, which makes five.”
Perhaps the Owls can officially reach that fifth win next season.
Terrance McNeil can be reached at email@example.com.