Brett Kean threw two touchdown passes to Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the Green Team rallied for a 15-14 win over the White Team in USF football’s spring game at Corbett Soccer Stadium.
Like most spring games, it wasn’t a work of art, but head coach Charlie Strong was still satisfied.
“A lot of penalties, we got to clean that up. A lot of dropped balls... but overall very pleased,” said Strong. “Defensively we were able to apply some pressure.”
The White Team led 14-3 late in the third quarter. The Green Team finally put a drive together and got in the end zone on the last play of the third when Kean threw a slant to Valdes-Scantling on 4th and goal. A two-point conversion failed, leaving the score 14-9 White.
After a series of punts, Green got the ball back with around five minutes left on the running clock. On a free play where White jumped offside, Kean threw deep for Valdes-Scantling down the left sideline. Despite some pretty blatant interference, Valdes-Scantling had no trouble pulling in the pass and he trotted into the end zone for a 15-14 lead with 3:45 to play. (No conversion was attempted, probably to make sure there wouldn’t be a tie when the clock ran out.)
Valdes-Scantling finished with seven catches for 126 yards. Kean completed 15 of 28 passes for 151 yards, with the two TDs and one interception thrown under severe pressure.
Chris Oladokun was denied a fourth-down conversion on White’s next possession by the quarterback touch rule. He had pulled the ball on a read option and would have easily picked up the first down, but was tagged before reaching the line to gain. To prevent injuries, any time a defender touched the quarterback, the play was automatically over. It prevented some big hits, but also stopped a few plays that would have succeeded in a real game.
“I wish we had a little more freedom,” said Oladokun. “I feel like I could have made a couple more yards, a couple more plays. But I understand they’re trying to protect us.”
Fortunately White got one last chance. From the 15-yard line, Oladokun threw for Elkanah Dillon, who beat his man on a deep post and rumbled all the way to the Green 30-yard line. White tried to get closer for a winning field goal, but lost three yards on first down, then threw incomplete to the end zone. With three seconds left, Emilio Nadelman checked in for a 50-yard attempt into the wind to win the game for White. In the first quarter, Nadelman had barely converted a 44-yarder in that direction, with the ball just creeping over the crossbar. Based on that and Nadelman’s previous injury, as well as the fact he had kind of rigged up this scoring chance in the first place by playing with the clock rules, Charlie Strong ultimately waved off the attempt and ended the game.
Oladokun was 10-for-19 for 176 yards, including a 76-yard rainbow to Darnell Salomon in the third quarter that gave White their 14-3 lead.
Quinton Flowers only played two series, one for each team. He led the White team to their first score, a 24-yard touchdown pass to Deangelo Antoine, and threw an interception off an aborted screen for the Green team.
“We know what 9 can do,” said Strong. “(We let) the other two go and manage the offense.”
The offensive lines struggled with pass protection as both defenses brought constant pressure. The tackling was also very good all day.
“Defensively, if you look at last year, they felt like they were the weak link,” Strong said. “They just wanted to improve and show that we can play defense.”
USF stuck mostly to running between the tackles and had some success, but the wide-open run lanes of last year haven’t appeared yet. D’Ernest Johnson was a late scratch with an ankle injury, while Darius Tice ran for 59 yards on seven carries. Elijah Mack managed 60 yards on 14 runs.
The biggest win from the game was a very short injury list. Marcus Norman went down in the third quarter with a leg injury, but got up and came off on his own. Other than Johnson and Auggie Sanchez, who sat out recovering from offseason surgery, everyone else appears to have come through the game healthy.