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Published: Sunday, 4/20/2008

Falcons' defenders dominate in Bowling Green's spring game

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
Marques Parks gets brought down by P.J. Mahone after grabbing a pass at Doyt Perry Stadium.
Marques Parks gets brought down by P.J. Mahone after grabbing a pass at Doyt Perry Stadium.
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BOWLING GREEN - Anthony Turner was in an enviable situation during yesterday's spring game at Bowling Green State University.

Turner played for the Brown and Orange teams, meaning he was guaranteed a win - and the celebratory steak dinner awarded to the victor tomorrow.

But Turner's cut of meat, although assured, was certainly deserved being that he tossed the winning touchdown pass. Turner hooked up with Freddie Barnes from four yards out with 40 seconds remaining to lift Brown to a 7-3 victory in a game that lacked pizzazz until each squad's final drive.

"It's kind of deceiving because the defense doesn't know if it's coming or not," Turner said of the halfback pass near the goal line. "When it happens, they're shocked."

Turner likes his steak medium well, smothered in A1 sauce. Yesterday's game proved the Falcons are not well done, particularly on offense. The teams combined for just 375 yards, continuing a spring theme in which the defense has bullied the offense. Prior to Barnes' touchdown catch, it appeared as though Matt Norsic's 44-yard field goal in the first quarter would hold up as the only points scored.

"The defense really kicked the offense's butt this spring," BG coach Gregg Brandon said. "To end up with a defensive struggle in the spring game is kind of what I was looking for. I know the fans want to see points, but it's nice to see our defense running and making plays."

Had a player of the game award been issued, it would have probably gone to Brown's Diyral Briggs, who simply dominated all afternoon and finished with five sacks and nine tackles. Briggs also batted down a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game after Orange rallied for a modest drive.

"It feels great just coming out here seeing the ones, twos and threes on our defense being able to hold their own," Briggs said.

Michael Ream was nearly as disruptive as Briggs, registering three sacks and a quarterback hurry for Orange. Ream issued the Falcons a "B" for the four-week spring session, which ended with yesterday's game.

"The D line is looking good," Ream said. "We're not young anymore. We're a veteran squad. We're going to try to stop the run game. That's our big goal this year."

A solid showing by the defensive line can only mean the offensive line still needs work. Replacing three starters along the front remains the Falcons' biggest hurdle to overcome between now and the Aug. 30 season opener at Pittsburgh. Quarterbacks were not to be tackled yesterday, which was certainly a smart decision as Tyler Sheehan and Tony Hunter were ruled sacked a combined nine times.

"I think the continuity that we're trying to establish with the offensive line, you didn't see that today because we split the squad," Brandon said. "Those guys have a lot of time to get bigger, faster, and stronger in the offseason."

Sheehan was uninspiring while playing two quarters with each team, although he did accumulate 236 passing yards and no interceptions. He got the winning drive started with a 17-yard completion to Marques Parks, and Brown later picked up 15 yards on a pass interference call to advance to Orange's 34.

Brown's Chris Bullock led all backs with 54 yards on 17 carries, while Willie Geter led Orange with 43 yards on nine attempts. Barnes caught eight passes for 81 yards, and Parks had 79 on five grabs. Tyrone Pronty led Orange with 70 yards on four catches.

"Our offense will go as our offensive line goes and our quarterback goes," Brandon said.

NOTES: Brown's Sinisa Vrvilo, who made 15 of 19 field goal attempts last year, missed from 41 and 30 yards. Defensive end Angelo Magnone was held out after pulling a hamstring in practice earlier this week. Brandon wandered throughout the crowd during halftime, interviewing fans over the loud speakers. Nick Iovinelli averaged 37.7 yards on 10 punts.

Contact Ryan Autullo at:

rautullo@theblade.com.



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