Ryan Petrovich, MORGANTOWN – The West Virginia football team played their annual Gold and Blue Spring Game at Milan Puskar Stadium on Saturday. The players and coaches gave the fans a taste of how this year's team is shaping up.
Mario Alford took the opening kickoff down the field for a 99-yard touchdown as the Blue Team struck first. Alford's kick return put the Blue team up 7-0 with 9:46 remaining in the first quarter.
"It was live, I took it like a real game and turned the key," said Alford. "I just cut it up field. The whole team had a pretty good spring, I feel pretty good about my spring personally."
Wendell Smallwood started in the backfield for the Mountaineer's first-team while Paul Millard started the game as quarterback. After one first down coming off a run from Smallwood, Millard was unable to connect with Alord to keep the drive alive.
"I've been happy with the backs and tight ends," said head coach Dana Holgorsen. "Best thing Charles Sims ever did by coming here is teaching these guys how to be versatile. Wendell was probably our best inside receiver, very versatile, very productive."
Logan Moore stepped in as quarterback on the next series as he found a first down play to wide receiver KJ Myers. Andrew Buie and Dusting Garrison shared time in the backfield during the series.
Rushel Shell took over duties in the backfield on the following series. KJ Dillon on the defensive side sacked Moore for a 1-yard loss. Moore responded with a pass completion to Kevin White. The drive stalled after Jeremy Tyler stopped Shell on a short swing pass. The Blue Team led the Gold Team 7-6 late in the first quarter.
The defense continued to apply pressure as Darrien Howard came up with a sack on Millard. The offense struggled in the early going while the defense looked sharp. At the end of the first, the Blue Team led 14-7.
"Fist team defense I think played excellent," said Holgorsen. "Then we started to take some of those guys out and then offensively we started moving the ball a little bit and as a head coach that's what you want to see."
"It was fun. Everyone had a good day for the most part," said Isaiah Bruce. "I think we did some good things and I think we could use some improvement but overall I think we did good."
Moore found Kevin White and Jordan Thompson for long gains through the air to start the second quarter. The offense finally found life as the drive was capped off by Josh Lambert who booted a field goal through the uprights to give the Gold Team 3 points. The Blue Team still led the Gold Team, 14-10 midway through the second quarter.
Garrison found room to work with in the backfield as he made some shifty moves to pickup a first down. Garrison continued to pound the ball picking up more yards to move the ball down the field. Skylar Howard found Daikiel Shorts on a short touch pass for a Gold Team touchdown. The Gold Team took the lead, 17-14, with 5:08 remaining in the second quarter.
Smallwood caught a deep ball from Millard on the next series as the offense began to overshadow the defense. Millard completed an over the shoulder touchdown pass to Kevin White as the Gold Team extended their lead, 24-14 late in the second.
"All throughout spring you want to see improvement," said Millard. "There are still things we can always fix. I thought everyone went out there and played hard."
After a 28-yard run from Moore the Gold Team couldn't finish the drive inside the red zone. Lambert hit another field goal to add three more for the Gold Team. The Gold Team led the Blue Team 27-14 going into halftime.
The defense came out strong to start the second half. Howard and Millard's offenses couldn't get anything going in the early going.
Lambert connected on a 53-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The field goal allowed the Gold Team's lead to grow as they led 30-22 heading into the fourth quarter.
Millar moved the ball down the field with a good mix of run and pass plays. Millard hit tight end Elijah Wellmen on a short pass in the end zone for a Gold Team touchdown. The Gold Team led 37-27 with 4:46 left in the game.
The Gold Team would go on to get the win, 37-27.