MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. – The Maroon team jumped out to a 16-0 lead and held off a late flurry from the Gold squad to post a 16-13 victory on Saturday afternoon in the 2013 Central Michigan Spring Game presented by Little Caesars.
On the Maroon’s team first play from scrimmage, redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush hit junior wide receiver Titus Davis in stride with a 62-yard scoring pass to provide Maroon with an early 7-0 first quarter lead.
On the ensuing drive, cornerback Jason Wilson got the ball back for the Maroon team, ending a Gold drive by picking off quarterback Cody Kater. However, the Maroon team’s subsequent drive ended in a missed field goal.
In the second quarter, the Gold team forced a turnover of its own, as linebacker Tim Hamilton tipped a Cooper Rush pass into the hands of fellow linebacker Jadon Cook. But the Gold offense couldn't capitalize and was forced to punt.
The Maroon team got the ball back deep in Gold territory in the second quarter off a muffed punt. Senior running back Tim Phillips finished off a drive that started at the 16-yard line, plowing in from one-yard out. The extra point was errant, making the Maroon lead 13-0.
The Gold squad forced a second first half turnover when cornerback Stefon Armstead intercepted Cooper Rush near midfield. However, while returning it across the midfield stripe he was hit from behind by tight end Deon Butler, forcing a fumble that was recovered by the Maroon team.
Maroon would add to its lead before halftime, as redshirt freshman Ron Coluzzi battled swirling winds to nail a 50-yard field goal.
Sophomore quarterback Alex Niznak took over the Gold offense in the second half and rallied the team, leading it on two second half drives.
Niznak first connected with tight end Ben McCord with an eight-yard scoring pass but the two-point attempt failed, making the score 16-6. Later, he would find wide receiver Jesse Kroll open in the end zone for a 16-yard pass connection. The extra point was good, cutting the Maroon lead to 16-13.
With time dwindling, the Maroon team was able to run the ball out, thanks in large part to the rushing efforts of Phillips. He would finish the game with 57 yards on the ground on 11 carries with one touchdown.
Rush threw for a game high 115 yards, completing 7-of-15 passes, with one touchdown and two interceptions. Titus Davis caught two passes for 76 yards with one score.
Niznak completed 4-of-9 passes for 43 yards and two touchdowns for the Gold team. Anthony Garland carried the ball 15 times for 57 yards while Kroll had two receptions for 21 yards and one touchdown.
Safety Kavon Frazier led the Maroon team with six tackles while defensive tackle Leterrius Walton added five tackles and a sack. Matt Losiniecki and Matt Russo also recorded sacks.
Safety Tony Annese had a team high four tackles for the Gold team.
2013 SPRING GAME OFFENSIVE STATS (unofficial)
Rush - 7-15 115 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT
T. Phillips - 11-57, 1 TD
M. Walker - 9-18
Rush - 1- (-)2
Westendorp - 1- (-)3
T. Davis - 2-76, 1 TD
Howard - 1-16
M. Walker - 1-10
Fenton - 1-5
Flory - 1-5
Harris - 1-3
Niznak - 4-9 43 yards, 2 TD
Kater - 5-11 22 yards, 1 INT
Garland - 15-57
Niznak - 4-35
Kater - 5-2
Kroll - 2-21, 1 TD
McCord - 2-14, 1 TD
D. Davis - 2-6
Masztak - 1-12
Williams - 1-11
Garland - 1- (-)1