4:00 PM ET, October 26, 2002
Perry Stadium, BOWLING GREEN, OH
BOWLING GREEN, Ohio (AP) -- With quarterback Josh Harris slowed by a sprained right knee, Bowling Green needed a lift.
Welcome back, Joe Alls. Hello, P.J. Pope.
Alls returned to the lineup for No. 24 Bowling Green (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today, No. 24 AP) after missing two games with a separated shoulder and rushed for 109 yards as the Falcons beat Ball State 38-20 Saturday. Pope, a freshman who had scored twice all year, added 81 yards and two touchdowns.
The Falcons (7-0, 4-0 Mid-American) hardly missed a beat on offense, even with Harris ailing. They had 256 of their 451 yards on the ground.
Bowling Green entered the game averaging 49.3 points, best in the nation. Saturday's point total was its lowest of the year.
"They're a great football team,'' Ball State coach Bill Lynch said. "They've got so many weapons, they can hit you so many ways. If a guy misses a tackle, all of a sudden it's 10 more yards. ... I've got to admit, they're the real deal.''
Alls rushed for 100 yards for the third time this season and for the second time against Ball State. Ball State's Marcus Merriweather finished with 139 yards.
"It felt real good out there,'' Alls said. "I was trying the get back into the rhythm I had. I think I did all right.''
Bowling Green coach Urban Meyer was looking forward to what Alls could do when completely healthy.
"That was not the 100 percent Joe Alls,'' Meyer said. "I think he's a better player than he showed tonight and he still had 100 yards rushing.''
Ball State (3-5, 1-3) tried to make a game of it in the third quarter, cutting the deficit to 11 points on a 13-yard pass from Andy Roesch to Sean Schembra with 2:19 left in the period. But Harris responded five seconds into the fourth with a 25-yard TD pass to Charles Sharon.
Harris finished 19-of-32 for 195 yards and two TDs, and he was held to 24 yards rushing on three attempts. He had been averaging 299 yards of total offense.
Meyer said Bowling Green can be better.
"I can't wait for that one game where everything is clicking,'' Meyer said. "If you get the offense, defense and special teams really going then watch out, because we can be a really good team.''
After Ball State took a 3-0 lead in the first quarter, Bowling Green put the game away in the second, scoring 21 points. Pope led the way by rushing for 44 yards and touchdowns of 6 and 9 yards. Harris connected with Baker 10 seconds into the quarter to get Bowling Green on the board. It was the sixth time this season the Falcons have scored 20 or more points in a quarter.
Tim Streit caught a 2-yard pass on fourth down from Roesch with 8:53 left in the fourth to cut it to 31-20. But after a 56-yard Bowling Green punt and an intentional-grounding call, Ball State turned the ball over on downs at its 26. After the teams traded turnovers, Cole Magner scored on a 4-yard run for the Falcons to seal it.