VALDOSTA, Ga. - The Valdosta State football team took the field at Bazemore-Hyder Stadium on Thursday night, and several new faces helped put an exclamation point on a promising spring in the program's annual spring game.
"We had some young guys grow up this spring," said Head Coach David Dean after the exhibition. "Overall, we grew as a team, we grew as a family, and we grew in toughness. This was a grueling spring with a lot of physicality, and our guys came out very physical tonight as a result of the work they've put in. I was glad to see that."
The matchup featured a scoring system that allowed the defense to score two points for a three and out, one point for preventing the offense from crossing the 50-yard line, five points for a turnover, six points for a touchdown, and two points for a safety. The offense earned points through a traditional scoring system.
The defense posted the first two points of evening after three straight stops, but the offense answered quickly with a touchdown drive that was sparked by a 26-yard pass from freshman Roland Rivers to Xay Howard. The drive was capped off by a 33 run into the end zone by freshman Mitchell Kamm.
The Blazer swarm took control of the contest for the remainder of the first half and took a 25-14 lead after the defense forced two turnovers, one of which was an interception that was returned 36 yards for a touchdown by Tim Sanders. Cooper Lemons also served as a defensive catalyst with a sack on the same drive, one of three for the senior on the night.
Despite a strong defensive effort, the offense kept the score tight with two scores, including an athletic play by Rivers, who escaped the defense in the backfield before he zipped an 11 yard pass in to Tyre Waiters. In addition, Jordan Germany brought the offense to within four points just before the halftime break with a 12-yard carry into the end zone.
Kamm ignited the offense again early in the second half with another huge gain on a 57-yard run to the left side, which set the Blazers up for a 37-yard field goal by Matthew Wylie to bring the offense to within one at 25-24.
On the ensuing drive, Germany struck again for a 32-yard touchdown carry. The long run marked the running back's second touchdown of the night and gave the Blazer offense a 31-25 advantage with 7:12 remaining in the third quarter.
The offense continued to click on the next possession with another scoring drive that featured Kamm's third big play of the night, a 41-yard carry that pushed his total yardage over 150 yards on the night and gave the offense a 38-27 lead.
The black swarm jumped right back into the competitive contest when they forced a fumble and set up Trenton Pruett for a recovery and a return from 17 yards out for an 11 point play that knotted the game back up at 38-38. The defense also answered a a field goal with two more stops in the closing minutes to end the night with a 41-41 gridlock.
"We have to stay hungry between now and the start of the season," added Dean when asked about what he expects throughout the remainder of the off-season. "We need to outwork everybody that we'll play on our schedule. We're going into the weight room now to work on our strength and then phase into conditioning, but the main focus right now is to outwork all 10 teams that are on our schedule as well as the four or five we'll have to beat to win another national championship."
VSU kicks off the 2015 season on Saturday, September 5th, on the road against the Albany State Golden Rams.
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