Finally the Firebird faithful can exhale. After a trying first two games, Atlanta rebounded with a commanding 26-10 road win over the Oklahoma Roughnecks.
“After the way we started, we’ll take any win we can get. I don’t care if it’s against an expansion team or a blind girls school,” said Coach Rob Ryan. “The important thing is grasping that first W and building on it.”
It was a dominant effort by the defense, as they did not allow the Oklahoma offense into the end zone. The Roughnecks’ only points came via a field goal and a third quarter kickoff return. For the game, they allowed 267 total yards.
Offensively, after sputtering through a scoreless first quarter, the team kicked it into gear in the second quarter. Responding to the Roughnecks’ field goal, quarterback Matt Barkley capped off a scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Nick O’Leary. With under a minute to play before the break, he hit Chris Warren for a 5-yard score to grab a 13-3 lead at halftime. Barkley made it a hat trick on the opening drive of the second half with a 14-yard touchdown to Robert Davis.
Tremon Smith returned the ensuing kickoff for a 102-yard touchdown, but Wil Lutz drilled a pair of fourth-quarter field goals to keep the game out of reach.
Barkley finished the night 19 of 32 passing with 224 yards, 3 touchdowns, and no turnovers.
“That’s the kind of game we’ve come to expect from him,” said Ryan.
While Barkley had the highlights, it was the most balanced effort of the season with 224 yards through the air and 139 on the ground. Matt Breida ran for 70 yards on 18 attempts, and rookie Josh Adams added 52 yards on 11 carries.
Tight end Nick O’Leary was big with 4 catches for 84 yards and 1 touchdown.
Mike Hilton led the defense with 9 tackles. Joplo Bartu, Jarvis Jones, and Siran Neal each tallied a sack.
The Firebirds (1-2) take aim at two-straight wins this week when they return home to face the 1-2 Miami Mustangs.