Stanley leads white to spring victory over green, 67-35

In the Lions first spring game under new head coach Ron Roberts and his staff, the offense dressed in white, propelled to a 67-35 victory over the defensive unit, who took the field in green.

Senior quarterback Nathan Stanley accounted for four Lion touchdowns, three through the air and one on the ground, while fellow senior and last year’s starter Brian Young accounted for one strike of his own. Even with a new receiving core, Stanley noted that this spring has really helped him get in sync with some of the newcomers.

“These guys have stepped up. We got a lot of young receivers,” said Stanley. “We lost some talent last year, but I feel like these guys are ready to step up. We’ve been running pass skill and stuff throughout the spring and it’s just paid off.”

The teams took the field in the scrimmage going 1’s vs. 1’s, and on the first play of the game, Stanley hit sophomore receiver Dean Johnson with a strike across the middle with Johnson doing the rest, taking the ball 40 yards for the score. Johnson caught three balls for 80 yards on the day.

 “The biggest pluses for me today were that we protected the football well on offense and were real efficient when we got down inside the [defense’s] 40-yard line,” said Roberts. “Our quarterbacks did a great job in protecting the football, especially in the early part of the scrimmage.”

On the next drive Young took command of the offense driving the ball down the field before connecting with sophomore wide receiver Carl Pearson on a 24-yard strike through the air. The Lions offense was on a roll to begin the game, and Roberts was impressed with his unit.

“The first part, offensively, was real impressive with our quarterbacks and receivers,” said Roberts. “Dean Johnson made some great catches and had some great runs. There were a lot of players who stood out today. Sam Fairley and Zeke Jones made some great runs. Blaine LeBlanc made some tough runs.”

After giving up three consecutive scoring drives the Lions defense stood strong for three consecutive drives, holding the offense to just field goals as senior kicker Seth Sebastian and sophomore Ryan Adams nailed kicks from 28, 41 and 22-yards. Adams also converted an impressive 52-yarder later in the scrimmage.

“I thought our guys really battled back hard, made some plays when they had to and bent their backs well in the red zone. We got a lot of stops there,” said new Lions defensive coordinator Pete Golding, a graduate of Hammond High School.

Overall, the new head coach was delighted with his team’s effort throughout the spring and looks forward to what this team can build on going into the fall.

  “I think we came light years as a team. We’re a lot farther along than where we were,” said Roberts. “I thought we got better every time we scrimmaged and I think we came a lot farther today than we did a week ago. The progress has been great to see, but we just have to keep doing it. We can’t stop now.”

The Lions open the season on Sept 1. versus SEC newcomer Missouri, before hosting their home opener in what will be a newly renovated Strawberry Stadium versus South Dakota State on Sept. 8.