It came down to one final competition but the Gold team pulled out a 39-38 win over Blue in the annual West Virginia Gold-Blue Spring Game Saturday afternoon at Milan Puskar Stadium.
The spring game was split into four quarters, the first and third being skills competitions and the second and fourth more of a traditional scrimmage. Head coach Neal Brown played the role of M.C. to explain what was happening on the field to the limited number of spectators in attendance.
The spring game began with the Blue team jumping out to a 9-0 lead after three special teams drills. Following the first set of drills, the scrimmage portion of the spring game began.
The first-team Gold offense had a couple of promising drives stall in the redzone thanks to sacks by Akheem Mesidor and VanDarius Cowan and drops by Bryce Ford-Wheaton and Winston Wright. Gold added one field goal.
The second-team Blue offense had an explosive play on its first drive when quarterback Garrett Green hit freshman wide receiver Kaden Prather with a 51-yard deep ball that resulted in a field goal. Greene tried for a big play again on the next drive and was intercepted in the endzone by cornerback Daryl Porter Jr., giving the Gold team three points. After the first bit of scrimmage, the Blue team led 12-6. After a punting drill, the Gold offense scored the first touchdown of the day on an option-read keeper by quarterback Jarret Doege.
The next competition was set to be a quarterback challenge between Gold’s Doege and Blue’s Greene. Just before it started, however, Brown introduced a surprise third participant, WVU men’s basketball point guard Miles “Deuce” McBride, a former high school quarterback. Doege scored four points in the challenge, Greene scored one and McBride hit on his final throw of the day to walk away with one as well. That concluded the first half with the game tied 16-16.
After halftime, the Gold team won four out of seven 1-on-1 reps to take a 20-19 lead leading into the next scrimmage period. This time it was the Blue team scoring a touchdown on a nine-yard run by running back A’Varius Sparrow. A field goal challenge between Danny King and Tyler Sumpter re-tied the game at 32-32 with one last scrimmage period remaining.
Freshman quarterback Will “Goose” Crowder took over for the Blue team and threw an unfortunate pick-six to Gold safety Avery Wilcox. Crowder’s pass was tipped up into the air and fell right into the hands of a full-speed Wilcox, who took it 50 yards for the touchdown. On the very next throw, however, Crowder came right back and completed a 65-yard touchdown pass to receiver Sam Brown, tying the game back up at 38-38.
Not wanting to end in a tie, Neal Brown announced to the crowd that the finale tie-breaker would be a big man-on-big man pass play. 248-pound defensive lineman Brayden Dudley played defense for the Blue team against 278-pound offensive lineman Noah Drumond on offense. Drummond tried to get open with a couple of double-moves, but Dudley was able to knock the pass away to win the rep and give the Gold team a 39-38 victory.
Doege finished 10-14 for 79 yards with a rushing touchdown. Greene went 8-16 for 103 yards and one interception. Crowder finished 3-4 for 66 yards with a touchdown and interception. Sparrow led the game with 50 rushing yards and one touchdown. Sam Brown (69 yards), Prather (62) and Wright (43) were the leading receivers. Five players recorded sacks with two going to Jordan Jefferson. Wilcox and Porter caught the interceptions.