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ThunderWolves’ defense edges offense in spring football game

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 There usually isn’t drama in a spring football game, but then again, a first-year program isn’t supposed to win four games.

The ThunderWolves certainly provided excitement for the crowd in attendance Sunday at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl as the defense prevailed over the offense 35-34.

“I thought we had a great competitive spirit to end the spring,” Colorado State University-Pueblo head coach John Wristen said. “It was great how it went down to the last play to see who was going to win it.”

Wristen decided to pit the offense against the defense for the scrimmage, which capped the ThunderWolves’ second spring campaign and first at the ThunderBowl.

In order for the two sides to compete, the scoring system had to be adjusted from a typical football game since the defense doesn’t have a chance to score unless they record a safety or run back an interception or fumble for a touchdown.

The offense received seven points for a touchdown, three points for a field goal and one point for every first down they picked up. On the defensive side a touchdown was worth eight points and turnovers six points. Three and out possessions garnered the defense two points and a defensive stop one point. Each possession began on the offense’s 30-yard-line.

Facing a third down, and with his offense trailing by a point on their final play, quarterback Bobby Washington scrambled to his left and found an open Markus Turner for a four-yard completion.

Unfortunately for the offense, they needed one more yard for the first down to gain a point and tie the score at 35.

On a day when the weather was more reminiscent of an October afternoon than mid-April, the play on the field was physical and hard-hitting. The two sides went after each other with reckless abandon as many players were competing to impress coaches and earn starting spots this fall.

“It was nice to see a lot of the offense and defense competing hard against each other,” Wristen said.

Both sides alternated according to the depth chart after each offensive possession ended.

Wristen stood behind the offense and shouted commands and compliments to each side. After a double reverse to Turner gained 10 yards, he yelled nice call to the offensive side and repeatedly chastised players for not hustling off the field.

Washington, the team’s incumbent starting quarterback, took the reins of the first-team offense and led it on a methodical 70-yard scoring drive on its second possession.

All five quarterbacks on the Pack depth chart saw plenty of playing time and each one showed signs that they are ready to lead the 2009 ThunderWolves.

Colin Clancy, a senior transfer from the University of Central Oklahoma, put the ThunderWolves’ offense in position to win the scrimmage. He scored on a 9-yard scramble to pull the offense within four points after a successful two-point conversion attempt.

Clancy received one of the loudest cheers of the afternoon when he caught his own deflected pass and rumbled for a 15-yard gain.

Redshirt freshman Will Paddock threw the game’s only interception, but the defensive backfield had several chances to create turnovers and put points on the scoreboard.

Cornerbacks Jerome Page and Denzel Williams each dropped easy interceptions and were heckled by teammates. Despite the squandered opportunities, Wristen said after the game, he believes the defense has up to eight potential starters in the secondary.

Wristen was satisfied with spring practice and is excited about the team’s prospects for the 2009 season.

“I’m really encouraged by what we’ve got going on. We accomplished what we wanted out of spring ball,” Wristen said. “This summer we’ve got to maintain this upward climb that we’re going on. We’ve got to make sure those kids are working together and then we’ve got to get ready to play a great Eastern New Mexico team August 29.”