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 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
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,
"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
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
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
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
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."