(22) Bowling Green 41

(9-2, 6-1 MAC)

Ball State 14

(5-8, 3-5 MAC)

1:00 PM ET, November 22, 2003

Scheumann Stadium, Muncie, IN

1 2 3 4 T
#22BGSU 7 14 0 2041
BALL 7 0 0 714

QB returned to lead two scoring drives

MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) -- If Bowling Green coach Gregg Brandon didn't know already, he found out just how valuable quarterback Josh Harris is to his offense Saturday.

Harris threw two touchdowns passes and ran for two more scores to lead Bowling Green (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 22 AP) to a 41-14 win over Ball State.

Cole Magner

Cole Magner hauls in a TD for Bowling Green.

Perhaps more telling, Brandon pulled Harris in the third quarter in hopes of saving him for next week's showdown for the Mid-American Conference West Division title against Toledo.

But the offense stalled with freshman Omar Jacobs at quarterback in the third quarter, allowing the Cardinals (4-8, 3-5 MAC) back in the game.

Harris came back into the game and led the Falcons on two touchdown drives to seal the win.

"I think he thought, 'Hey, this is nonsense, let's get this done,' and he did," Brandon said.

Harris, who came into the game fourth in the nation in total offense with 330 yards a game, threw touchdown passes of 36 and 19 yards and scored on runs of 1 and 2 yards for the Falcons (9-2, 6-1).

"Harris is an excellent athlete with good ability and he can make things happen," Ball State coach Brady Hoke said.

Bowling Green plays Toledo on Nov. 29. A win over the Rockets would clinch the MAC West title and get the Falcons to their first MAC championship game since the league split into divisions in 1997.

Scott Blair had 10 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns to lead Ball State (4-8, 3-5), which lost its fourth game in a row.

Leading 21-7 with five minutes to go in the third quarter, Brandon inserted Jacobs at quarterback. Bowling Green went three-and-out on consecutive drives, and the Cardinals made things interesting when Blair scored his second touchdown of the day, a 3-yard run that made the score 21-14 with 11:35 to play.

Harris returned on the next possession, calmly leading the Falcons on a seven-play drive that culminated in a 39-yard touchdown run by P.J. Pope that put the Falcons back in control at 28-14.

Harris sealed the win on the next possession when he scored from 2 yards out on a play set up by B.J. Lane's 78-yard run.

"They did a nice job of executing their plays, especially the ground game with the two long runs," Hoke said.

The Falcons took advantage of a Ball State turnover to get the scoring started in the first quarter. Keon Newson wrestled the ball away from Dante Ridgeway for an interception to give Bowling Green the ball at the Cardinals 36.

On the ensuing play, Harris faked a bubble screen to Cole Magner and hit James Hawkins on a 36-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead.

"We covered the pass fairly well, but allowed too much at certain points that led to big plays," Hoke said.

The Cardinals responded on the next drive, when Blair started right, cut back to the left and streaked 42 yards for the score.

But Harris was just too much for the Cardinals. He rushed for 73 yards on 17 carries and completed 15 of 27 passes for 142 yards.

"Josh doesn't like to lose," Brandon said. "He'll beat you at tiddlywinks."

Harris hit Magner on a 19-yard TD pass early in the second quarter, and then strolled in from one yard out for the 21-7 halftime lead.

Lane added 115 yards on six carries for the Falcons.

Andy Roesch was 16-of-34 for 193 yards with one interception and one fumble for Ball State. Ridgeway had seven catches for 51 yards, giving him a school-record 1,075 yards on the season.

But the day belonged to the Falcons, who are already thinking about next week's critical game against the Rockets.

"It's hard to win nine football games, and we've won nine football games," Brandon said. "Somehow if we don't get it done next week, our seniors will be bitterly disappointed."