UNC Spring Football: Key Plays

CHAPEL HILL – While fans of the North Carolina Tar Heels are mostly on pins and needles anticipating what will happen with the school's search for a basketball coach, about 5,000 of them turned their attention to coach John Bunting's football team on Saturday afternoon.

The event? Carolina's annual spring football game, and after a week of awful weather in the Research Triangle area, it was nothing but blue sky and sun splashed fans at Kenan Stadium. The White team defeated the Blue team, 21-10, but more important is that there were few injuries and the defense appears in better shape than last fall when the Tar Heels went 3-9 and were at the bottom of the Atlantic Coast Conference in most defensive categories.

Note: there was no contact allowed on the quarterbacks, as each wore red jerseys with their game numbers. Also, the Blue team comprised of the first team offense and second team defense and the White team was the second team offense and the first team defense. Each unit also had key reserves.

Here is a look at some of the key plays in a game that lacked big plays:

*Jacque Lewis 56-yard opening kickoff return. It led to a 30-yard field goal by Dan Orner for the Blue team's first points.

*RS freshman cornerback Jacoby Watkins beautifully broke up a pass by junior quarterback Darian Durant intended for junior wide receiver Jawarski Pollock in the left side of the end zone to force a field goal on the first possession.

*Freshman linebacker Melik Brown was credited with a sack of Durant in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

*Sophomore strong safety Tommy Richardson blocked a Paul Roberts punt. He got a hand on it, limiting the punt to less than 15 yards.

*Rushing hard up the middle, junior defensive tackle Jermicus Banks batted down a Durant pass. It was an impressive example of his improvement, although he is still seeking more consistency.

*Sophomore cornerback Cedric Holt had an interception of a Durant pas brought back because of a holding penalty on the defense.

*Two plays later, Holt picked off another Durant pas - a two-yard fade - but was flagged for pass interference.

*Senior defensive tackle Isaac Mooring sacked Durant after a nifty rush in which he evaded a couple of would-be blockers. After the sack he was as excited as anyone on the afternoon.

*Playing for the White team, true freshman tailback Ronnie McGill scored the game's first touchdown on an 11-yard run up the middle. He crossed the goal line with three defenders on or grasping at him.

*Kentucky transfer tailback Chad Scott scored a touchdown on a one-yard run for the Blue team.

*Holt picked off his third pass of the day, as he stepped in front of the intended receiver and snared a pass from Stephens and returned it around 20 yards. This one finally counted, as his first two picks were called back because of penalties.

*Third-string sophomore quarterback Matt Baker had a surprisingly attractive 27-yard scamper in the second half.

*Baker's run helped lead to a touchdown connection to RS freshman Lewis Burnham that put the White up, 21-10 early in the fourth quarter.

*Tommy Davis literally took the ball from QB Landon Mariani and raced about 55 yards before being brought down on the next to last play of the game.

*Junior linebacker Clarence Gaddy and senior defensive tackle Donti Coats were also credited with sacks.

*It must be noted that the new video scoreboard has been installed in front of the old field house, or "The Alamo" or the "Spanish End Zone" as many fans like to call it. It was not operational, but will be by the season opener against Florida State. The scoreboard's "legs" are consistent with the concrete look and color of the rest of the stadium. The top of the scoreboard has the word "Carolina" in the school's famous blue with an interlocking "NC" on both sides. The background on the top is black. Below the video screen in Carolina blue is the part of the board that tells the score, down, yard line, etc.

Senior writer Andrew Jones is in his seventh year with Inside Carolina. He also covers the ACC for the Wilmington Star-News/Morning Star and can be reached via e-mail at: AndrewJones@AM630.net.

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