Defense edges Offense 51-48 in annual spring game

The Defense clipped the Offense 51-48 in the annual spring game.
The Defense clipped the Offense 51-48 in the annual spring game.

The Defense put together multiple comeback efforts, finally catching the Offense when Joe Harakal missed a 37 yard field goal with no time on the clock, as the Defense won the annual spring game 51-48 at Frost Kalnow Stadium.

Things started the Offense's way on the pleasant, sunny day as they raced out to a 17-0 lead. The Offense capped off a 70 yard drive with a 5 yard TD run by Nick Watson. The drive was highlighted by a 12 yard run by JaQuan Hardy and a 35 yard pass from Watson to Mason Gray as TU put 10 points together on their opening drive.

Besides the normal offensive scoring, the Offense also got points for runs of longer than 12 yards and pass completions of 16 yards as well as getting consecutive first downs. The defense got points for turnovers, three-and-outs, and tackles for loss/sacks.

The Offense made it 17-0 after quarterback Jay Volpenhein hit Franklin Steward on a 57 yard TD strike.

The Defense started to claw back into the game on the next two possessions. Three tackles for loss, a sack, and a three-and-out pulled the Defense to within 18-11.

Hardy had another big 22 yard run while Zach Goecke and Ross Moore had tackles for loss, as the Offense held on to a 20-13 lead.

Long completions of 19 and 20 yards from Volpenhein to Marcus Perrin and Todd Toney culminated in a 32 yard field goal by Harakal pushed the lead to 25-13. A tackle for loss by The-Moor Kelly ended the first quarter with the Defense trailing 26-15.

A big Goecke sack was countered by a 15 yard rush by Hardy to start off the second quarter as the Offense held a 27-17 lead.

Latrell Robinson had another tackle for loss as the Defense tried to get footing but the Offense got more points as Volpenhein hit Marc O'Neal on a 27 yard pass and Harakal capped off the drive with a 42 yard field goal to make the score 31-19.

The Defense responded in a big way with 16 unanswered points. Four straight three-and-outs highlighted by a sack from Marvin Radford and a tackle for loss by Chrystian Watkins finally gave the Defense the lead 35-31.

Another sack by Blake Barnes pushed the Defense's lead to 37-32 but the Offense finished the half with a touchdown from Watson to Devon Lynch covering 33 yards to give the Offense a 40-37 lead at halftime.

The team played one more quarter with a running clock, and the Defense outscored the Offense the rest of the way 14-8. Three three-and-outs with a tackle for loss by Ean Shaw led the defensive charge. 

Riley Adolph connected on big pass plays to Daesean Brooks covering 41 and 18 yards as a touchdown put the Offense back up 48-42. The Defense answered with two straight three-and-outs to tie the score at 48-48 as time expired. To settle the tie, Harakal attempted a 37 yard kick which missed to give the Defense the victory.

"We had good energy on both sides of the ball," said Head Coach Cris Reisert. "We made strides each day of spring practice. The offense protected the ball well and we ran well especially in the first quarter. We controlled the line well at times. Defensively we really got after the quarterback in the passing game, put great pressure on the passer. 

"We saw so much improvement from the beginning of spring practice to now. Tremendous energy, relentless effort. We worked hard to put the players in a position to be successful. It is fun to see the hard effort result in production. Our spring effort is paying off as we begin to see production. It has been a good glimpse at what the team will look like in the fall."