Spring football concluded for the Pittsburg State Gorillas on Saturday with the annual Spring Game — approximately 1,000 fans sat through a relatively low-scoring affair and persistent light rain.
White fell behind 7-0 after one quarter when Red quarterback Darrack Harger connected with receiver Gavin Lutman on a 45-yard touchdown pass but three turnovers helped spell doom for Red, as White scored the final three TDs en route to a 19-7 comeback victory at Brandenburg Field/Carnie Smith Stadium.
In the final quarter, trailing 12-7 and looking for the possible game-winning score, Harger struggled to pick up additional yards inside White territory.
Defensive back Isaac Maselera stripped Harger and the seemingly always opportunistic Aries Herrion picked it up and ran it back 74 yards down the right sideline for the clinching score, faintly recalling his blocked field goal return for touchdown in the National Championship Game.
“We had some good competition and luckily, we got through without getting anybody injured,” Pitt State head coach Tim Beck said. “That’s kind of the main thing you worry about as a coach on this last day but we had some guys playing hard and running to the ball well. We played fairly fast, our execution wasn’t real good at times but sometimes when you draft teams like that, you have offensive linemen playing next to somebody they don’t normally play with and that makes it a little bit difficult. It was enthusiastic and finally, the weather cooperated at the end.”
White earned bragging rights on the field. Red could be heard talking sideline noise all game long Saturday.
“According to the Red, it’s an upset,” Beck said. “They’ve been talking a lot the last couple days. White didn’t talk as much. They just listened and took care of business today.”
With proven commodities like Nate Dreiling and John Brown on the sideline, the Spring Game showcased predominantly the younger players. This was especially true at quarterback, where sophomore Harger, redshirt freshmen Ramsey Hamilton, Todd Freeman, Will Harrington and Colton Dirks, and sophomore transfer Owen Jordan all received snaps behind center.
“Darrack Harger, Ramsey Hamilton and Todd Freeman made some nice plays,” Beck said. “They just need a little time to develop and understand what we’re doing. It takes time. We’ve got to be patient with them. They’re talented young men and they work hard and hopefully, they’ll continue to get better.
“We held Anthony (Abenoja) out today because we know what he can do and where he’s at. It was important to get the rest of them some reps.”
Hamilton, from Beggs (Okla.), rushed for 63 yards and two TDs on 12 carries, highlighted by a 28-yard rumble and scoring runs of 2 and 12.
Page 2 of 3 - Harger, from Sand Springs (Okla.), rushed for 48 yards on 12 carries and passed for 71 yards, one TD and one interception on 5-for-17.
Red running back Solomon Watkins ran for 34 yards on six carries, highlighted by a 16-yard run.
White receiver Marquise Cushon snagged four passes for 53 yards and picked up 17 yards on his lone carry, totaling 70 yards on five touches.
Defensively for White, Colby Hall led the way with five tackles. Dennis Tanner, Aries Herrion, Savoy Santiago and Avery Adair recorded four, and Maselera, Jimmy Washington, Tyler Disney, Chris Heffern and Keeston Terry added three. St. Mary’s Colgan graduate Drew Gill added two stops and a fumble recovery. Nick Sims intercepted Harger, derailing a Red drive.
Quad Ware led the Red with five tackles and Dallas Shalz made four stops. Deaven Jensen, Dino Teague, Heath Wilson, Eric Brantley and Dylan Case each recorded three. Wilson led all players with 2.0 sacks. The difference in the game rested on Red forcing no White turnovers.
Defensive coordinator Dave Wiemers evaluated the spring overall.
“I think our spring’s been pretty good,” Wiemers said. “We got to the point about halfway through, we started looking at the young ones because we feel solid about our core. The thing we have is experience. It’s the No. 1 thing we want more than anything. I’ll take it over talent anytime. Fortunately, we have some talent and we have some experience. If all goes well, we should be able to hold up our end of the deal.
“Our top 25 is deeper than it’s been. We feel good about our backups at every position. They’ve got a lot of reps and they feel like they can run on the field and contribute. In that aspect, I feel better about our depth than I have in a while and that’s what you get out of days like this.
“The back end of our defense right now, linebacker through safety and through corner, has got depth, it’s got talent and it’s got experience. We feel really good there. Our d-line has to grow up together. I think we’re really close but we hope we can add another one to it as we go and have us eight guys up there that we can roll through and play fast. We’re not quite there yet.”
WHITE 19, RED 7
W 0 6 0 13 — 19
R 7 0 0 0 — 7
RED — Gavin Lutman 45 pass from Darrack Harger (Connor Frazell kick)
WHITE — Ramsey Hamilton 2 run (Anthony Rosen kick)
WHITE — Hamilton 12 run (pass failed)
WHITE — Aries Herrion 74 fumble recovery (Chad Levin kick)
Page 3 of 3 - First Downs 12 12
Rushing yds. 100 103
Passing yds. 79 94
Passing 6-12-0 8-22-1
Total Offense 179 197
Fumbles-Lost 1-0 2-2
Penalties-yds. 6-50 5-45
Punts-avg. 5-32.0 5-31.8
Third Downs 2-9 4-13
Fourth Downs 0-1 0-1
Sacks-Yds. 1-8 3-31
RUSHING — White, Ramsey Hamilton 12-63, Marquise Cushon 1-17, Dre Holman 5-17, Jeff Seybold 6-13, Mason Snow 1-5, Owen Jordan 1-3, Will Harrington 3-(-8), TEAM 1-(-10). Red, Darrack Harger 12-48, Solomon Watkins 6-34, Todd Freeman 3-18, Scott Lester 1-6, Brian Poston 6-5, Colton Dirks 1-(-8).
PASSING — White, Ramsey Hamilton 4-7-0-0-48, Will Harrington 2-3-0-0-31, Owen Jordan 0-2-0-0-0. Red, Darrack Harger 5-17-1-1-71, Todd Freeman 3-4-0-0-23, Colton Dirks 0-1-0-0-0.
RECEIVING — White, Marquise Cushon 4-53, Austin Daniel 1-19, Mason Snow 1-7. Red, Trey Derryberry 2-18, Levi Kuntzsch 2-16, Austin Panko 2-14, Gavin Lutman 1-45, Herman Ming 1-1.