Offense and defense show bright spots in spring games


The following is an opinion column:

The IUP football team concluded its spring drills this past week with an inter-squad scrimmage played at George P. Miller Stadium.

It was the second of two spring scrimmages, each yielding different results and providing glimpses of what could be a fun fall season.

In the first scrimmage, the defense, anchored by several returning all-conference players, dominated the pace  and registered several stops in a row. The offense was held scoreless until the end.williams

In the second spring game, the offense got into more of a rhythm and looked incredibly sharp. Both Lenny Williams (sophomore, accounting) and Andre Dreuitt-Parks (freshman, business) led the first- and second-team offenses down the field throughout the scrimmage.

With familiar faces out of the lineup, IUP gave several backups extended playing time over in spring drills. This is important for growth moving forward, especially considering how the Crimson Hawks use their depth to gain an advantage.

Multiple players who will look to play an increased role this season had strong outings in the scrimmages.

Sophomore Deandre Easterling (business) showed his ability as an edge rusher in the scrimmages. Easterling tied for the team lead in sacks last season and showed his explosiveness from his defensive end spot.

Dom McNeil (freshman, kinesiology, health & sport science), a 5-foot-8 walk-on wide receiver, recorded many catches on the second team, including a long touchdown reception in the second scrimmage.

The defense dominated the first game and the offense dominated the second scrimmage.

It was tough to get a picture of the dual-threat ability that Williams possesses. Williams, who set the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record for rushing yards by a quarterback, was able to escape the pocket for a few runs. The rules of the scrimmage were put in place so plays would be blown dead whenever the quarterback was touched by a defender.

Ryan Stewart (senior, accounting) looked much more comfortable as the kicker this spring. Stewart was very consistent throughout spring practice and during the scrimmages in extra points and field goals. Last season, Stewart finished the year making 16 of his final 17 extra point attempts. He also made two field goals of 40 yards or more.

Linebacker Kevin Clarke (junior, kinesiology, health & sports science) left the scrimmage with a hamstring injury. Nick Dubowski (senior, management) was held out with a concussion. Jay Watkins (redshirt junior, kinesiology health & sport science) didn’t play and Takhi Turner (junior, kinesiology health & sport science) left with a knee injury.

Offensively, neither Walt Pegues (junior, communications media) or Luigi Lista-Brinza (junior, kinesiology, health & sport science) participated in spring drills. Swahneek Brown (redshirt junior, management) was injured in practice and did not play in either scrimmage.

As a side note, former Buffalo Bills quarterback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Kelly was present for the second scrimmage to watch his nephew Zac Kelly (freshman, criminology).