QBs shine in Blue Devils' Spring Game

Duke wrapped up the 2012 Spring football season with the annual Spring Game.

DURHAM, N.C. — Quarterbacks made many of the biggest plays at Duke's spring game — both the good ones and the bad ones — and sometimes while playing other positions.

Fifth-string quarterback Thomas Sirk threw two touchdown passes for the White team. Two of starter Sean Renfree's passes went for White touchdowns, too — and that was a problem because he was playing for the Blue.

The White team consisting of the starting defense and reserve offense beat the Blue and its first-string offense and backup defense 38-24 on Saturday.

"We've got players that can make plays on both sides of the ball," coach David Cutcliffe said. "That's the key, and we want to grow that number."

Sirk, a freshman, threw scoring passes of 15 yards to Nick Hill and 28 yards to Brandon Watkins for the White. Hill also caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Sean Schroeder.

Three quarterbacks, Renfree, Anthony Boone and Brandon Connette, played with the Blue offense. Connette ran 30 yards for a touchdown and his 27-yard TD pass to Josh Snead made it 31-24 with 6:45 left.

"I think we have probably one of the few teams in the country that have three guys that have played as much as these guys have played," Cutcliffe said. "They're good football players, and finding the top 22, you can see on offense ... when I say that Renfree, Boone and Connette are in that number. They're going to play different places."

Renfree had two interceptions returned for touchdowns, including a 34-yarder by Kyler Brown with 5 seconds left that sealed it. Jordon Byas returned an early pick 32 yards for a White TD.

Cutcliffe had said multiple quarterbacks might see the field at the same time after a scrimmage two weeks ago in which Connette took handoffs at running back and Boone caught some passes at receiver.

In this one, Sirk saw noticeable time at receiver and the Blue team dialed up some razzle-dazzle in the third quarter.

Boone threw a lateral to Connette, who then tossed a 36-yard pass downfield to Jamison Crowder. That set up Snead's short touchdown run out of a formation that had Connette in the shotgun and Boone as a receiver.

"It's interesting to get two guys out there, two dynamic quarterbacks, puts a lot of strain on the defense because they have to account for a lot of stuff," Renfree said. "A lot of versatility, a lot of athletes — you saw both of those guys can run around, throw it and do a lot of things with it."

Connette, who entered last year as the team's short-yardage specialist but missed the last 10 games with a shoulder injury, scored the Blue's first touchdown when he faked a handoff and took off up the middle to make it 21-7 with 7:45 left in the half.

"Just being the competitor that I am, I want to get on the field," Connette said. "I want to have the ball in my hands and be able to try to make some plays ... (because) I think that's one way that I can help the team win and make a push to a bowl game."

Sean Schroeder put White up 7-0 with his short touchdown pass to Hill on the reserves' first series. Three plays later, Renfree's pass to the flats for Crowder was picked off by Byas and returned down the sideline for a TD.

Hill's scoring catch from Sirk on the White's next possession, making it 21-0 just 31 seconds into the second quarter.

Sirk's second touchdown pass came midway through the third when he found a wide-open Watkins over the middle to put the White up 28-10.

Defensive MVP Ross Cockrell made the key play for the White's first-string defense early in the third quarter when he chased down Snead 85 yards into his sure-thing touchdown run and forced a fumble that went out of the end zone for a touchback.

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