CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – The White team returned two turnovers for scores and then held off the Red team, 52-25, Saturday morning in Austin Peay State University’s annual Red-White Spring Football game, held in Governors Stadium.
Although a point system was devised to reward defensive performance (White team) and offensive (Red team) execution, it was not needed on the 70-yard fumble return for score by walk-on Nii Lartey and Tyreon “Mookie” Clark’s 65-yard interception return.
The offense got an unexpected lift from quarterback Jacob Sexton, who injured a tight in last week’s scrimmage and practiced sparingly on Friday. Sexton accounted for all three offensive scores on touchdowns passes, two to Mikhail Creech and the other to Darryl Clack.
“I saw a lot of things out there,” APSU coach Kirby Cannon said. “We certainly didn’t play perfectly but I thought our effort was good throughout. There were more good things than bad. There was improvement defensively to a point I think we can be a pretty good defensive football team if they don’t have to play too many plays.
“Offensively, we have to get better in a number of areas but that is what fall is for.”
Offensively, Cannon was not pleased with six pre-snap penalties along with the two turnovers that resulted in touchdowns. But at the same time he was pleased with the defense gaining the takeaways.
“We have made it a premium in not turning it over but on the other side gaining some turnovers. At the same time defensively, those turnovers were earned. It is better for me to be happy with the defense scoring making those plays than being upset with the offense for allowing it to happen.”
Defensively, the first-team group, especially the front six, helped dominate the line of scrimmage. In fact, enough pressure was kept on the quarterbacks much of the day. However, Sexton was able step up at quarterback during the day, completing 14 of 16 passes for 198 yards and the three TD passes.
In the first half, he connecting with sophomore Creech on a 25-yard pass and run for the offense’s only tally before halftime. In the second half, he threw a second TD pass to Creech, this one of 10 yards. However, that play was set up by a 50-yard connection between Sexton and Clack.
Clack then fought his way for his score on a 10-yard pass from Sexton.
Clack finished the day with 4 catches for 105 yards while Creech had four catches for 77 yards.
As the first phase of the Kirby Cannon ends, the head coach was pleased with what he saw in the spring.
“Coming in we had some defined goals for the spring,” he said. “The first is to practice like I like to practice—how to give effort on offense and defense on every play. I know we came a long way that way.
“From an execution standpoint offense is typically going to be behind, you have a number of key people, the quarterback (Jake Ryan) to replace. It may have been a little disappointing that we didn’t progress as much on offense as I would have liked. It was typical. Had it been an experienced quarterback group, an experienced offensive group, then I would have been upset.
“Defensively, it will be on well we can condition in the summer, on how we come back (in the fall). The kids have potential to be good, but we have some huge steps to take before we can be considered a good defense.”