Broncos Use 2nd-Half Surge to Power Past Ohio Print E-mail
Written by Dave Ruthenberg   
Saturday, October 04 2008
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WMU TE Matt Stevens scores on 32-yard reception / Photo: Deb Ruthenberg
KALAMAZOO, MI - Emerging from a first-half slumber that saw them clinging to a narrow 11-7 lead, Western Michigan rolled to thirty second-half points in putting away Ohio, 41-20 on homecoming Saturday at Waldo Stadium.

Ohio and Western Michigan nearly slept-walked through a sluggish first-half before Western Michigan quarterback Tim Hiller caught fire and finished the game by passing for 347 yards and four touchdowns, atoning for a rough first half.
"It was a different me," said Hiller when discussing the first half. "That was ugly. I was embarrassed."
Despite passing for 183 yards and a touchdown in the first half, the junior signal-caller turned the ball over twice, including an interception that set up Ohio's only touchdown of the first half when he was picked off by Ohio defensive tackle Jameson Hartke deep in the Broncos' own territory.
With Western Michigan clinging to a 5-0 lead, Hartke picked off Hiller at the Western Michigan 34-yard line and retuned the ball to the Broncos' 3-yard line. The Bobcats pushed the ball across the goal line three plays later when quarterback Boo Jackson connected with Andrew Mooney for a four-yard touchdown, giving the Bobcats what would turn out to be their only lead of the game at 7-5.
Until that point the game featured more misadventures than offense.
The Broncos got on the board first after Harrison Porter recorded his first career interception by picking off Ohio quarterback Boo Jackson's pass at the Broncos' 30-yard line and returning it to Ohio's 37-yard line after the Bobcats had moved downfield on their opening possession.
Western Michigan's drive however bogged down and the Broncos had to settle for a John Potter 34-yard field goal, taking a 3-0 lead.
The Bobcats had a chance to answer on their next drive as again Jackson moved the Bobcats downfield, highlighted by Donte Harden's 42-yard gallop to the Western Michigan 27-yard line eventually setting up a 43-yard field goal attempt but Barrett Way's kick sailed wide left, preserving WMU's 3-0 advantage.
It was Way's sixth miss already this season as the Bobcats' season-long special teams woes continued.
Western Michigan's defense would tally the next points of the game after Ohio came up with a turnover after the Broncos were stopped following a drive deep into Ohio territory late in the opening quarter but Hiller's fumble on a attempted pitch to Brandon West fell to the turf and was pounced on by Hartke, claiming the first of his two first-quarter takeaways.
The Bobcats however could not get out of their own way and a drive that initially started at their own 22-yard line eventually moved backward to its own 11-yard line following a holding and illegal chop block penalty on consecutive plays. Facing second and twenty, Jackson was met in his own end-zone by the Broncos' Zach Davidson, making it a 5-0 game.
WMU RB Brandon West, seen here headed for the end-zone, accounted for 179 total yards and three touchdowns Saturday against Ohio.
Photo: Brett Selleck
After the Bobcats scored their only touchdown early in the second quarter, the Broncos finished off a strange first half when Hiller passed for the first of his four touchdowns, connecting with Brandon West on an 18-yard touchdown. Rather appropriately, the PAT effort was no-good and the Broncos entered halftime up 11-7.
The Bobcats were called for seven penalties for 73 yards in the first half while the Broncos were not penalized at all in the first half.
The Broncos also outgained the Bobcats 204-139 yards in the first half but could only manage 21 yards rushing while Ohio could not get anything going through the air, passing for 52 yards.
But Hiller and the Broncos would make a statement in the second half following a halftime locker room pledge from Hiller.
"I got up at half and I said 'you guys this is my fault,' explained Hiller after the game."I told them I will be better. It was just execution. I didn't execute well."
Hiller lived up to his pledge, leading the Broncos on a 16-0 run to open the second half, extending the Broncos' lead to 27-7 early in the fourth quarter.
After the Broncos opened the second-half scoring with a John Potter 39-yard field goal, Hiller found Jamarko Simmons for a 16-yard touchdown with 2:36 remaining in the third quarter. The scoring drive started on Ohio's 26-yard line after Chris Garrett fumbled a punt that was recovered by Western Michigan's EJ Biggers.
"Our coaches told us all week they (Ohio) kind of hold the ball out so swat at the ball and try to make plays on it and that's what we did," said Biggers, who also was credited with a blocked PAT.
WMU needed just four plays before putting six on the board.
The Broncos recorded the game's longest scoring play when Brandon West scored the first of his three touchdowns on the day, breaking several tackles after taking a bubble screen pass from Hiller and racing 45 yards into the end-zone, capping an 8-play, 92-yard drive. Once again however the Broncos had some misadventures on the PAT with a bad snap and Potter's pass into the end-zone failed. But the Broncos by this point had built what would be an insurmountable 27-7 advantage.
Ohio would answer however but not before nearly giving the Broncos possession deep inside Ohio territory.
After the Bobcats took possession after WMU took the 27-7 lead, they once again moved the ball downfield but Jackson's pass intended for Brandon Peterson was intercepted by CJ Wilson however Wilson fumbled the ball which was then recovered by Peterson at the Broncos' 20-yard line.  
From there the Bobcats moved inside the Broncos' five-yard line and on 4th-down and goal from the two-yard line, Jackson found David Carter for a 2-yard strike in the end-zone to bring Ohio to within 27-13 but the Bobcats would draw no closer.
The Broncos would answer on their very next drive, moving 51-yards on five plays, capped by Tim Hiller's fourth touchdown pass of the day when Matt Stevens scampered 32-yards into the end-zone. The Broncos were able to take advantage of a personal foul call on the Bobcats which occurred during the Bobcats' PAT effort, forcing Ohio to kickoff from its 15-yard line, setting up a short field for the Broncos.
The teams would trade scores in the final four minutes as Western Michigan put the finishing touches on a convincing, if somewhat odd, 41-20 win.
For Ohio head coach Frank Solich, it was a matter of the team not being able to overcome its own mistakes, committing nine penalties for 98 yards, in addition to its ongoing penchant for special teams miscues.
"We had a lot of penalties in that first half, which is tough when youre trying to get a lead and build on that lead," said Solich after the game. "Were plagued with penalties right now. Well take a look at it and see where the problem is. But we didnt give ourselves a chance."
With the loss the Bobcats fell to 1-5 overall and are now 0-2 in MAC play but Solich doesn't believe the team is ready to pack it in on the season just yet.
"After talking to them in the locker room I think its going to be interesting to see how theyll respond," noted Solich. "Theyre beat up, but theyre not going to just give up."
The Broncos meanwhile remain tied atop the MAC West at 3-0 in conference play with Ball State and have now won five straight games following an opening-season loss to Nebraska with head coach Bill Cubit pleased with the team's ability to rebound from its first-half struggles, attributing their second-half performance to a combination of halftime adjustments and a scaled-back game plan for its quarterback.
"It was rough going in the beginning, we really struggled offensively," said Cubit afterward. "Then all of a sudden we made a lot of adjustments. Our coaches in the box did a great job. We put Tim (Hiller) in a better position and he made some great throws (in the second half)."
Western Michigan next travels to Buffalo (2-3, 1-1 MAC) which was idle this week while Ohio also continues conference play with a trip to Kent State (1-5, 0-2 MAC) next Saturday (October 11).
NOTES: The Broncos recorded five QB sacks, led by Cody Cielenski who was credited with a season-high 2.5 sacksThe win was Western Michigan's 500th all-time victoryThe Broncos recorded 503 yards of total offense, the second time this season they have surpassed 500 yards in offense (633 vs. Tennessee Tech)...Ohio TE Andrew Mooney moved into second-place all-time at Ohio with his 12th career touchdown reception.
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