Courtesy of Eastern Illinois Athletics
CHARLESTON, Ill. â€“ Gordy Kickels tipped a Shadonta Travis pass into the air near the goal line and Alex McNulty cradled the interception and fell to the ground four yards later as time expired to give the White Team a 24-17 victory over the Blue Team during the Eastern Illinois Spring football game on Saturday morning at Oâ€™Brien Field.
â€œI was hoping the Blue Team would score on that last drive so we could play overtime,â€ said an excited head coach Bob Spoo following the fiercely contested spring game. â€œAll of our players have responded to the challenge of our off-season program and I think todayâ€™s great competition was evidence of that commitment to our football program.â€
Travis did a solid job driving the Blue Team into a potential game tying drive after he brought the Blue Team within one score on their previous possession. Travis guided the Blue Team into a scoring drive that resulted in a Kevin Cook 43-yard field goal that closed the White Teamâ€™s advantage to 24-17 with 5:16 left to play. The Blue Team would then regain the ball on a muffed hand off attempt by the White Team with 1:12 left in the game. Travis hit Charles Graves for two long pass plays to put the ball at the White 17 yard line before the McNulty interception.
Travis was solid for the Blue Team completing 19-of-27 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns. Travis did have two interceptions as Ryan Turner also picked off a pass in the end zone late in the second quarter. The Blue Team had another scoring drive end on a turnover as Sean Campbell forced an Alex Harrington fumble at the White 26 yard line that was recovered by Kickels.
Brandon Large quarterbacked the White Team finishing an effective 15-fof-24 for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Two of his big touchdown passes landed in the hands of Erik Lora who had three receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns. Lora scored on receptions of 53 and 42 yards. He also caught one pass playing for the Blue Team for 24 yards giving him four grabs for 129 yards total.
Large engineered one other touchdown producing drive as he hit Chris Wright for a 34-yard score with 18 seconds left in the first quarter. Kevin Cook added the White Teamâ€™s other points on a 42-yard field goal.
â€œI think we are in pretty good shape at the quarterback position,â€ said Spoo after the game. â€œWe looked good today and both guys played well. It helps that they had some good receivers to throw it to. We talk about yards after the catch and you see what Erik Lora did today finishing over 100 yards.â€
With three running backs on the sidelines with spring injuries the spring game proved to be the right time for several other people to step and produce. Desmin Ward carried most of the load for the White Team rushing for 92 yards on 17 carries. Andrew Brewer had a team-high nine carries for the Blue Team finishing with 27 yards.
On the defensive side of the ball Nick Beard and Perry Burge led the Blue Team with five tackles each with Burge tacking on a sack. Carlos Reyna and Perry Maynard had a team-high 5 tackles for the White Team.
â€œIâ€™m excited about the way we finished the spring,â€ Spoo said. â€œI think we will have lots of positions up for contention. We had some guys we may have written off at some positions that really stepped up and played today. You always want to finish the spring practices on a high note and I feel we accomplished that today.â€
EIU will open the 2010 season on Sept. 4 at Iowa.