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YPSILANTI, Mich. — Ronnie Moore was challenged by his teammates on the Bowling Green State University football team last week.
“[My teammates] were asking, ‘Are you going to step up?’ every practice,” Moore said. “I said, ‘I’m going to step up. You’ll see.’ And I proved myself.”
Moore, a true freshman, made the most of his first career start with the Falcons, catching seven passes for 161 yards and three touchdowns — all career highs — in BG’s 58-7 win over Eastern Michigan on Saturday.
GAME STORY: Falcons run over Eastern Michigan 58-7
Moore got the Falcons rolling with a 74-yard touchdown catch-and-run off a sideline pass by Matt Johnson midway through the first quarter.
“The first thing [I did] was to catch the ball,” Moore said. “Then I turned around, and [Shaun Joplin] blocked their dude with a good block, and I took it to the house.
“Once I was in the open field, I just kept going. No stopping.”
Near the end of that period Moore caught a 22-yard TD toss from Johnson, and late in the second quarter the pair hooked up for a 34-yard scoring strike.
In 10 games before Saturday, Moore caught 15 passes for 229 yards and three touchdowns. While those numbers may not seem like much, Moore’s TD reception total was tops on the team even before Saturday’s three-score outburst.
“He’s a dynamic play-maker,” BG coach Dave Clawson said of Moore. “And he’s getting more comfortable in the offense every week.
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“His role early was so limited because he didn’t know the offense. Every week we give him a little more.”
In recent weeks injuries that have knocked Chris Gallon, Jared Cohen, and Heath Jackson out of the lineup have resulted in more opportunities for Moore.
“When I first came, [the coaches] told me I was going to play,” Moore said. “I did all the jet sweeps and screen passes.
“But since Heath Jackson went down, they moved Ryan Burbrink out to the ‘X’ so I filled in at slot. I knew all the plays, so I just went and did work.”
The only problem the native of Sanford, Fla., experienced Saturday was the bitter cold and strong winds that chilled Rynearson Stadium.
“Man, it was cold,” Moore said. “I told myself, ‘As long as I keep my hands warm, my feet will hold up.’”
LOCAL LOOK: Eastern Michigan’s starting quarterback was Brogan Roback, a freshman who graduated from St. John’s Jesuit last May.
Roback completed just 1-of-12 passes for four yards with an interception while facing the fierce BG defense and equally fierce weather conditions. He also was sacked twice, resulting in 13 yards lost rushing.
Another local on the EMU roster is redshirt freshman kicker Brendan Reinus, a Bedford High School grad. Reinus handled kickoffs for the Eagles and averaged 61.0 yards per kickoff.
INJURY UPDATE: Jackson, who was not in uniform for Saturday’s game, wasn’t the only Falcon who did not play against Eastern Michigan. Safety Jude Adjei-Barimah, who was injured late in the win over Ohio, also did not play.
Rover Justin Ford didn’t make the trip to Ypsilanti after suffering from concussion-like symptoms during the week.
NEW POSITION? The Falcons are so short-handed at wide receiver that senior quarterback Matt Schilz played the position at times in the fourth quarter.
“If you played wide receiver for us, you would have gotten reps today,” Clawson told reporters after the game. “We are really thin there.
“I think Heath could have played in an emergency. But we wanted to rest him up and get him ready for next week.”
BIG NUMBERS: Bowling Green has outscored its opposition 152-10 in its last three games. … EMU’s touchdown, which came on a interception, snapped a string of 90 straight points scored by the Falcons. … In its last 14 quarters Bowling Green has outscored its opponents 170-17.