Huskies’ defense shatters in MAC Championship loss

By Brian Earle

What was supposed to be the strength of football’s defense this season turned out to be its undoing in its 47-27 defeat against Bowling Green in the MAC Championship.

All season long the Huskies played a bend: Don’t break defense. In this loss the Huskies’ defense didn’t just break; they shattered.

The Huskies’ secondary was shredded by redshirt sophomore quarterback Matt Johnson for 393 passing yards and five touchdowns through the air. With the five passing touchdowns, Johnson set a MAC Championship game record for most passing touchdowns in a game, passing the likes of Byron Leftwich (Marshall), Bruce Gradkowski (Toledo) and Ben Roethlisberger (Miami), who all threw four touchdowns.

Right from the get-go, Bowling Green and Johnson came out throwing. On the first play of the game, Johnson connected with freshman wide receiver Ronnie Moore on a 23-yard play. Four plays later, Johnson threw his first touchdown pass to senior tight end Tyler Beck for 28 yards.

“We felt really good about our ability to protect, attack their coverages and throw the football,” said Bowling Green coach Dave Clawson. “Sometimes you go into a game and there’s certain matchups you like and you know you can exploit them.”

The Falcons continued to air it out on their next drive, as Johnson hit Moore for a 61-yard completion on the first play, leading to a Bowling Green field goal.

Johnson was picking apart the Huskies’ secondary and doing it with ease, receivers appeared to be wide open on seemingly every play. Johnson made the Huskies pay.

“He [Johnson] had a great game,” said senior safety Jimmie Ward. “A couple wheel routes, pipe routes, a couple of busted coverage’s on our behalf…. They had a great game, they wanted it more.”

On the Falcons’ next drive, it was the same story as Johnson hit Moore for a 25-yard gain followed up a 36-yard touchdown catch by Moore. In the first quarter, Moore made three receptions for 122 yards and one touchdown.

Johnson went on to throw a 22-yard touchdown to redshirt junior wide receiver Heath Jackson, a 12-yard touchdown pass to redshirt senior tight end Alex Bayer and a 6-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore running back Travis Greene on a shovel pass.

Johnson exploited every part of the Huskies’ secondary and got every one of his receivers involved, throwing each of his five touchdowns to a different receiver.