Big plays both ways for Crusaders in spring game
By John Mutka Post-Tribune correspondent April 20, 2013 4:28PM
Fred Gladney catches a pass as Cody Cotton defends during the annual spring Brown and Gold Football Game on Saturday, April 20, 2013, at Brown Field on the Valparaiso University campus. The annual scrimmage is a preview of the fall season. | Michael Gard
VALPARAISO — They came out firing in Saturday’s Brown and Gold exhibition, dropping hints that next football season is going to be wild and crazy for the Crusaders.
Five players intercepted passes for the Gold, which wrapped up spring practice with an 82-68 victory. Alex Green, Melvin Graham III, Carlos Hunter, Roberto Kelly and Ryan Mundy were credited with picks, most of them early, to give the Gold an early 36-3 lead.
Shaking off a bad start, which was aggravated by bone-chilling northeastly winds, four quarterbacks threw touchdown passes to rally the Brown team. Freshman Ryan Gorski stated his case with a strike of 60 yards to Jake Hutson and a 10-yarder to Alex Hentgen. Eric Hoffman, Ben Lehman and Scott Stall also connected for touchdowns.
“My first one was a screen to the right side,” Gorski said. “Jake broke a couple of tackles and turned it into a long touchdown. The second was a fade and Alex made a nice catch over the DB in the end zone.”
The biggest crowd-pleaser was Hoffman’s deep throw down the middle to Tanner Kuramata, who caught it in full stride for a 65-yard touchdown.
“Our offense was a little sloppy at first,” Hutson said, “but we warmed up and showed our potential for next season.”
Because the Crusaders were down to three running backs, Coach Dale Carlson converted Hayden Hast from defensive back. He responded with a 53-yard run and several other plays for double-figure yardage. Hast has been handicapped by engineering classes which cut into his practice time, but is making strides.
“In the last week he’s gotten into a groove and started to pick things up,” said Carlson. “He’s a good athlete with ball skills and it will be interesting to see how he develops.”
Hast couldn’t be happier with the switch. He was an option quarterback in Rapid City, S.D., but hasn’t found it difficult to adjust.
“They’ve done a good job of bringing me up to speed on the practice time I’ve missed,” he said. Hast also tipped his helmet to Hutson. “Jake’s one of my good buds and he’s helped me out a lot, but running back feels so natural to me.”
Carlson referred to the highs-and-lows as a double-edged sword, but is pleased with Valparaiso’s overall progress.
“The thing I liked is both the defense and the offense had to overcome adversity and responded,” he said. “They kept bouncing back. Our defense got off to a good start, then the offense came back. Those were things we haven’t done in the past.”
Unofficially, Andrew Cassara was the leading receiver with seven catches.
Considering the hostile elements, VU’s kickers also stepped up.
Heir apparent Alex Kozlowski handled the punting. Mike Pando and Josh Young kicked field goals of 35 and 36 yards, respectively, and converted all five extra points.