Kings of the road

MIAMI – The job of a back-up quarterback is not an interesting one. Typically, standing on the sidelines with a headset and clipboard is all in a day’s work, with the occasional mop-up job when the game is out of hand.

Freddie Barnes, following a three-touchdown performance in 33-28 win over Florida International on Saturday, does not subscribe to this theory.

Although Anthony Turner started the game, a dislocated left shoulder (non-throwing) late in the third quarter prevented him from finishing it. Barnes took over for the Falcons once again, leading the team downfield twice for a total of 10 points in the fourth quarter.

Coach Gregg Brandon is pleased with the play of both of his young quarterbacks.

“Freddie Barnes is a competitor, and Anthony Turner is a warrior as well,” Brandon said. “Both of those guys have demonstrated that we can win with them.”

By throwing, rushing and receiving for a touchdown, Barnes became the first Falcon player to pull off this feat since Josh Harris did it against Northwestern in 2001. In all, Barnes registered 83 yards rushing, 57 yards in the air and three yards receiving.

The most dramatic improvement BG made in its third game was in special teams play. Sean Ellis was two-for-two on field goal attempts, and consistently hit higher, deeper kickoffs then he did in the previous two games season. Although it was a productive day for the freshman, Ellis missed yet another extra point attempt.

“You can see the talent – he’s just got to develop consistency,” Brandon said.

The special team wasn’t without its share of mistakes. To start the second half, FIU’s Lionell Singleton returned a kickoff 98 yards for a score to bring the Panthers within two points of BG.

However, BG’s special teams had a score of its own, when Loren Hargrove forced an FIU fumble following a kickoff and Jerrett Sanderson picked the ball up and ran it in for a touchdown.

The game seemed in hand with 1:07 left in the fourth quarter, BG up five points and FIU 80 yards away from a win. The Golden Panthers weren’t done yet though, as they drove 40 yards in less than one minute to put themselves in position to take a shot at the end zone for the win.

Fortunately for the Falcons, a young secondary rose to the occasion, blanketing the FIU receiver and coming up the interception to close the game. Sanderson made the pick-off for BG, his second interception of the game.

“[The quarterback] brought everyone to one side, so we knew where the ball was going and we knew we had to protect the end zone,” Sanderson said. “One of us had to make the play, any of us could have made the play, and I was the lucky one to be there.”

BG held strong on defense when they had to, but struggled in other ways. The Falcons allowed 341 yards of total offense. Of those yards, 232 belonged to running back A’mod Ned of the Golden Panthers, whose speed and agility made him hard to tackle and kept FIU in the game.

Ned averaged over 10 yards each time he touched the ball, despite rushing for an average of only 60 yards in his previous two games.

“We had trouble blocking [Ned] defensively,” Brandon said. “We had to make some big plays to win the game.”

Barnes was pleased that the defense did what it needed to do in the end to secure a Falcon victory.

“They played great again,” Barnes said. “They came up with big stops and gave us opportunities to put some more points on the board. That’s their job, and it’s up to us to put more points on the board for them.”

The game at FIU Stadium brought out about 1,000 Falcon faithfuls, approximately 150 of which were friends and family of freshman punter Alonso Rojas, whose home town is Miami. Rojas saw major improvement in front of his cheering section, punting four times for an average of 47 yards, including a long of 61 yards.

Turner had 65 yards rushing to go along with being 10-of-19 for 135 and a touchdown passing before being knocked out of the game. The severity of the injury is currently being assessed.