Quarterback Cy Ward led a 90-yard scoring drive and his defensive teammates rose up to preserve a come-from-behind win for the Purple team in Denton’s spring game Thursday night.
With the 21-16 verdict and the month of practices that preceded it, the Broncos moved ever closer to becoming the finely tuned vroom-vroom muscle machine coach Kevin Atkinson has been dreaming of since he took over the program a year ago.
“Last year it was kind of like I was an auto mechanic before they came out with all the computer diagnostics,” Atkinson said Thursday afternoon. “It was a good-looking car but if you asked me what was wrong with it, all I could say was, ‘I don’t know. It’s just not running good.’
“I had to drive it a bit to discover what needs to be changed. That’s what we did last season.”
With 20 returning lettermen including nine starters back on offense and five on defense, the Broncos featured a no-huddle attack Thursday that mixed the run and pass almost equally.
Faring about equally were Ward, last year’s starter for the 3-7 Broncos, and Christian Rodriguez, who quarterbacked the Gold team Thursday after piloting the JV team a year ago.
Ward completed nine of 14 passes for 124 yards while Rodriguez hit on 18 of 25 throws for 209 yards and the night’s only aerial TD. Neither QB was intercepted.
“I thought both our quarterbacks played really, really well,” Atkinson said. “I was impressed with the way Cy played, and I was impressed with this being the first varsity competition for Christian Rodriguez. He’s got a knack for getting out of the pocket and making decisions.”
Xavier Scott rushed 12 times for 76 yards and all three TDs for the Purple team. Tre’Von Jackson led the Gold team rushers with nine carries for 46 yards.
Key’andre Hearvey of the Gold team led all receivers with six catches for 59 yards and a score, a 25-yarder from a play-faking Rodriguez early in the second quarter. Teammate Deandre Coleman caught five for 53, while newcomer DeRodney Thomas led the Purple team with four catches for 64 yards and veteran Ke’Von Buris had four for 48.
Lorenzo Salas hit a 37-yard field goal to give the Gold team a 16-14 lead near the end of the third quarter.
Three minutes later, the Purple team was forced to start from its 10-yard line after a simulated Gold team punt and responded with a 12-play drive. Scott contributed eight runs for 52 yards and Ward picked up 34 yards on two completions, one a 22-yarder to Thomas.
Scott converted a third-and-six play by banging 16 yards to the 3-yard stripe, then scored from there ahead of Michael Husbands’ third PAT kick with 1:23 left to play.
Three Rodriguez passes later, the Gold team had moved from its 30 to a third-and-three at the Purple’s 32.
That’s when Adam Bershell logged his team’s first sack of the game, throwing Rodriguez for a 14-yard loss. For good measure, teammate Caleb Ridgway sacked Rodriguez on fourth down.
“We were moving the football, and we got a big stop at the end,” Atkinson said.
A 37-yard Rodriguez pass to Jackson set up Coleman’s 20-yard end-around scoring run for a 6-0 Gold lead early. The Purple team led 7-6 at the end of the first quarter after Scott’s 3-yard TD run and Husband’s PAT.
Both teams scored once in the second period as Scott’s 4-yard score gave the Purple a 14-13 lead at intermission.
Starting running back Deavonte Doucet sat out Thursday’s action with a shoulder injury and Aaron Maxwell, whom Atkinson labels the team’s best defensive lineman, missed all of the spring drills after knee surgery.