Johnson shines in the MAC Championship Game
On a Friday night where Jordan Lynch was expected to take center stage, Bowling Green State University quarterback Matt Johnson had other thoughts as he threw for a Mid-American Conference Championship record five touchdowns, but getting the title mattered more than an individual feat.
“It felt good [to throw for five touchdowns], but the win feels better,“ Johnson said.
Johnson gave his offensive line credit for helping him get to a career-high 393 passing yards on 21-of-27.
“All year, the [offensive line] has protected me, “ Johnson said. “You can’t ask anything more from an offensive line and you saw today when they gave me time, I was able to move the ball and put some points on the board.”
Losing 47-27 to Bowling Green was not what Northern Illinois University coach Rod Carey envisioned, but gave credit to his team for not giving up late in the fourth quarter.
“There was never any quit in our team,“ Carey said. “I am proud of my players [for hanging in].”
Bowling Green (10-3, 7-1) running back Travis Greene ran for 133 yards on 26 carries and scored a touchdown on the ground and receiving each.
Greene’s six-yard touchdown reception on a shovel pass from Johnson to put BGSU up 40-20 was the original call according to the quarterback.
“That was Trav’s route all along,“ Johnson said. “I got flushed out of the pocket and I wanted to get the ball to him quickly, so I [threw] the shovel pass.”
Lynch was intercepted twice on the night and came into the game being picked off five times all season.
On BGSU’s opening possession, Johnson rolled out form the pocket and found Tyler Beck for a 28-yard touchdown reception.
NIU (12-1, 8-0) responded on its first possession as Lynch threw the ball in the air and wide receiver Juwan Brescacin grabbed it with one-hand for a 14-yard touchdown reception after he gained separation from BGSU defensive back Cameron Truss to even the game at seven.
As the first half continued to develop, the Bowling Green defense made Lynch become one-dimensional as the running lanes began to close and once halftime arrived, NIU was down 31-13.
With the Huskies facing a double-digit deficit, Lynch scored an eight-yard TD run to pull within 11.
The Huskies would get no closer as the Falcons scored 16 of the game’s final 23 en route to its first MAC Championship since 1992.
Johnson was named Bowling Green’s Player of the Game, while Lynch represented Northern Illinois in the same capacity.
BGSU won 10 games in a season for the first time since 2003.
The win marked the Falcons’ 11th MAC Championship in school history.
Follow Eugene Evans on Twitter @GenoSportsguy.