JEFFERSON CITY — Carson-Newman’s annual Orange and Blue spring game started inauspiciously for the Orange squad. The David Needs-coached Orange club bounced back from a couple of early fumbles to score 17 unanswered in a 24-16 victory Tuesday at Burke-Tarr Stadium.
Freshman quarterback De’Andre Thomas rushed for two scores and 48 yards while Randall Freeman toted the rock 14 times for 101 yards including a 53 yard scamper for the Orange.
Andy Hibbett led the Blue team with 97 yards the ground on nine carries.
“Second half he finally relaxed and started playing a little bit,” Sparks said. “He’s got to relax and throw the football a little bit better, because we have to throw the football as a team this year.”
After the Orange team fell behind 7-0 on a Marcellas Pope one-yard TD run, the Orange rattled off 17 straight points to take a 17-7 lead.
It started with a 44-yard Ben Ogle field goal with 7:38 left in the second quarter.
Thomas would strike for six with 1:10 left in the half when he bulled his way around the left side of the line from six yards out.
The Orange defense would turn in some points as well when Case Woodard brought back a Goose Manning pass 50 yards for a score with 8:38 left in the second quarter.
The Blue would make a game of it, getting 28-yard field goal from Curt Duncan and Anthony Ball three-yard dive for six (the PAT was blocked) to draw within one.
However, the Orange would use an 18-play, 76-yard drive that worked 9:20 off the clock to ice the game with Thomas’ second rushing TD of the game, this one from a yard away.
Newcomer Taylor Bible and returnee Malachi Tullis led the Orange with four stops each. Caleb Smith and Pat Jarin made 10 and seven tackles respectively for the Blue.
However, it was Drakkar Wilson and his five takedowns for the Blue that stood out to Sparks.
“Drakkar Wilson did a good job shutting down things,” Sparks said. “But there were also some moments where he was inconsistent. We have to iron those out and do the little things right.”
The spring game brings to a close the Eagles spring practice period.
“Overall spring practice, we gained some ground and got some things done,” Carson-Newman head football coach Ken Sparks said. “Now we’ve taken that step, the next steps are the ones that matter now. We’ve got to do a good job finishing out the spring semester, work hard over the summer and go hard once camp gets here.”
However, with all those little steps, Sparks has one big step he wants his players to keep in mind.
“The one big thing is for them to get their hearts right,” Sparks said. “It has to be a championship heart. And the first step to that is a heart after God’s heart.”