BOWLING GREEN, Ky. — The Western Kentucky University football team wrapped up week three of spring practice with a full scrimmage Saturday afternoon, marking the second two-hour scrimmage this spring.
With the Red vs. White Spring Game just seven days away, the Hilltoppers went through numerous game-type situations, with the offense finding its rhythm once again in a full scrimmage scenario.
“The offense came out and executed really well," head coach Willie Taggart said. "I thought our quarterbacks came out and managed the game really well and made some big plays for us. They moved around really well in the pocket. When they did not have anything, they did a good job of throwing it away rather than trying to make a play."
Quarterback Kawaun Jakes led the offense to its first touchdown on the second drive of the scrimmage, hooking up with tight end Jack Doyle for an 18-yard touchdown strike, capping off an eight-play, 66-yard drive. Jakes would finish the day unofficially with 78 yards passing and 24 yards on the ground.
“I thought today went really well," Jakes said. "The offensive line had probably their best day of the whole spring, and the running backs were great. We took care of the ball, no big fumbles and no big penalties, and we came ready to play today.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback James Mauro finished his afternoon throwing for over 160 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior tight end Jim Murphree. Mauro also hooked up with sophomore receiver Boe Brand for a 48-yard gain, which set up a Courtney Dalcourt six-yard touchdown run.
In all, the Hilltopper offense produced five touchdowns during the long-field situations, with two more touchdowns coming in the overtime period of the scrimmage, where the offense would take over on the defense's 25-yard line.
Of the seven total touchdowns, four belonged to junior running back Antonio Andrews, who led the Hilltoppers with 154 yards rushing on 13 carries — averaging 11.8 yards per carry. Andrews and fellow running back Keshawn Simpson combined for 201 yards rushing on the day, with Andrews posting a 56-yard run, while Simpson turned in a team-best 57-yard carry.
"I thought our running backs ran the ball hard," Taggart said. "When you have the quarterbacks throwing the ball well and the running backs running the ball well, your offensive line is having a good day."
"The offensive line had a good day, and the fullbacks had an even better day," Andrews said. "They were getting blocks and opening holes. The offense had a good day.”
On the defensive side, senior defensive end Quanterus Smith posted three sacks, to go along with five total tackles — tying for the team lead. Jonathan Dowling and T.J. Smith also picked up five tackles for the Hilltopper defense, with Dowling also notching a sack early in the scrimmage.
Senior defensive back Kareem Peterson recorded four tackles, including forcing a fumble and recovering a fumble on the same play.
Saturday's scrimmage marked the final practice before tonight's spring game draft. The Red vs. White Spring Game will kick off next Saturday (April 14) at 6:00 PM from Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium. WKU will have two more practices next week leading up to Saturday's game.
Spring Practice No. 12 News and Notes:
Time to Draft
After each team signed a pair of free agents, the remainder of the spring game rosters will be filled tonight as both the Red team and the White team will take part in the spring game draft. Full rosters for both teams will be released next week.
"Our guys take [the draft] seriously," Taggart said. "If they did not take it seriously, we would not do it. We are providing an opportunity for a team to win. Our coaches get excited about it, too, and they get competitive. It gives me, the commissioner, the opportunity to see what our coaches think of our team by the way they draft. We let them run it as if they are the head coaches. It is great to see the guys have a nice strategy. At the end of the day, like I told our guys, we have to give our fans something to be excited about. If we play like we have been this entire spring, I think our fans will be excited.”
A Super Weekend
The 2012 football spring game will be part of the first annual "Super Hilltopper Weekend," beginning with the WKU track and field Hilltopper relays on Saturday, April 14 at 11:00 AM. The Red vs. White Spring Game will follow at 6:00 PM on Saturday, with softball closing out the weekend on Sunday with a12:00 PM contest against FIU. For more information on the activities, visit here.