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April 26, 2014

White team pushes past blue on final play

KENT, Ohio - An extra point by April Goss on the final play capped a 21-20 comeback win for Kent State's White team over the Blue team in an entertaining Spring Football Game on Saturday afternoon at Dix Stadium.

One of the largest crowds in Spring Game history watched the White and Blue teams connect on some big plays through the air. After quarterbacks Colin Reardon and Nathan Strock combined for four touchdown passes ranging between 23-and-76 yards in the first three quarters, it was a Strock-to-Casey Pierce throw of three yards that tied the game as the scoreboard clock hit all zeros, setting the stage for the deciding kick by Goss.

"It was an awesome day starting with the youth clinic and about 200 kids. That was an awesome event, and then the weather with the sun shining, you couldn't ask for a better game," said Kent State coach Paul Haynes. "We wanted a competitive game … and it was a good competitive football game."

Reardon completed 16 of 31 passes for 190 yards and touchdown passes of 23 yards to Ernest Calhoun and 47 yards to Chris Humphrey to help the Blue Team build a 20-7 lead in the third quarter. That advantage included field goals of 37 and 54 yards by Anthony Melchiori. Humphrey also enjoyed a big day catching the football for the Blue Team with six grabs for 120 yards.

Strock completed 9-of-19 for 196 yards for the White Team in a three-touchdown day highlighted by scoring throws of 75 yards to tight end Casey Pierce and 76 yards to James Brooks. The redshirt freshman threw one interception to safety Kevin Bourne.

"I thought everything was clicking on both sides," said Reardon, who is the incumbent starter heading into his sophomore season . "It was more Blue Team in the first half and more White Team in the second half, but I thought everything was great and it is looking very exciting going into the summer."

Haynes liked what he saw from the quarterbacks who will compete for the starting job when the football team reconvenes for practice in August.

"Colin Reardon is going to be a great quarterback for us, but it all depends on what he does this summer and in fall camp to improve himself because Nathan Strock is a good quarterback, too," said Haynes. "Those two complement each other and they make each other better … Both of those guys are learning. Both are getting better. And the good thing is both of them are still young."

Haynes was also impressed by the play of several players on the front line of his defense. The teams were constructed with the idea of pitting first-team defensive linemen on the Blue Team against first-team offensive linemen on the White Team.

"You had guys like Nate Terhune, Chris Fairchild, Terence Waugh and Richard Gray putting pressure on the quarterback," said Haynes. "The more we can get four-man pressure, the better off we will be. As a unit I thought those guys played very well."

The Spring Game concluded what Haynes called a successful month of work in April.

"I'm very pleased with where we are right now," said Haynes. "I know we are a better football team than we were at this time last year. We still have a ways to go with some fundamentals and technique. But our work ethic, our commitment to being great and our leadership is all where we want it to be right now."

The annual spring awards were presented during the break between the third and fourth quarters. Defensive back Elcee Refuge received the Jack Lambert Award as the defensive player who made the biggest improvement during spring practice. Offensive lineman Brock Macaulay received the Don Nottingham as the offensive player who made the biggest improvement during the spring. Safety Nate Holley and offensive lineman Jason Bitsko shared the Gerald and Victoria Read Award, which is given each spring to the player who exemplifies hard work and dedication beyond the call of duty. Defensive back Nick Cuthbert received the Leo Strang Award given to the upperclassman with the highest cumulative GPA. Running back Nick Holley and tight end Casey Pierce shared the Matt Ramser Award, which is given to a member of the football team who best exemplifies the qualities of "courage, dedication, attitude, and commitment" that Matt did during his fight with cancer.

Following practice, former Kent State quarterback and current New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman addressed the team at midfield.

"I thought it was cool that he still shows appreciation for his alma mater and that he really cares," said Reardon. "It was also cool for me considering he played my position when he was here. With everything he told us, about what he writes down in meetings, how he pays attention, and the things he lives by on the field, it was great to have the chance to listen and learn from someone like that."


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