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LOGAN, Utah - Behind 280 combined passing yards from junior quarterback Adam Kennedy and redshirt-freshman Alex Hart and solid defense, including a 30-yard interception return for a TD by senior safety Walter McClenton, the Blue beat the White, 33-7 in Utah State football's annual Blue-White Spring Game Saturday afternoon at Merlin Olsen Field at Romney Stadium. The sidelines were decorated with Aggie celebrities, as former USU greats Donald Penn, Jarrett Bush and Emmett White were in attendance, while the Blue team was coached by USU President Stan Albrecht and the White team was under the leadership of USU Provost Raymond Coward.
In addition to the Aggie players, the USU coaching staff, equipment staff and athletic training staff were all divided between Blue and White. A crowd of roughly 4,800 was treated to an afternoon of spring football that included three passing TD's, two rushing TD's and a defensive touchdown. Saturday's Spring Game wrapped up a busy day of USU Athletics activities, which included a football alumni gathering, HURD Bowl II, won by Flint-tropics team, a USU softball game and an Aggie soccer alumni gathering and tournament.
Following the Spring Game, fans mingled and got autographs from the players on Merlin Olsen Field.
"Overall it was a great day. We had a great crowd. I don't know how many people we had here overall, but it was impressive. It was great that our young men were able to come out and play at a high level. Those were two big positives," USU head coach Gary Andersen said.
In addition to being pleased with the crowd and performance of the current Aggie players, Andersen was also honored to have two former Aggies and current NFL players spend time with the team. Bush helped the Green Bay Packers to the Super Bowl XLV title while Penn, left tackle for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was selected to the Pro Bowl.
"It was also nice to get the two big timers back here in Jarrett Bush and Donald Penn. To have Donald and Jarrett talking to our kids is invaluable. One of them played in the Super Bowl and the other in the Pro Bowl at left tackle. Having them here was a big part of the scrimmage," Andersen said of the duo that was introduced to the crowd as part of the halftime festivities, and also posed with the Hurd Bowl II championship team photo.
Kennedy and Hart played for both the Blue and White teams. Hart was 12-of-16 for 188 yards with a TD and an interception while under center for the Blue team, while completing 7-of-9 for 73 yards with a TD for the White, finishing the day 19-of-25 for 261 yards with two TD's and an INT. During one stretch while guiding the Blue team, Hart completed eight-straight passes as part of opening 9-of-10 passing. Kennedy was 8-of-16 for 92 yards with a TD as the Blue's signal-caller while 11-of-17 for 131 yards with an INT while under center for the White. Sophomore Jeremy Higgins was also 6-of-9 for 38 yards for the White.
Senior wide receiver Eric Moats had seven catches for 118 yards and a TD for the Blue, a 41-yard strike from Hart that gave the Blue a 20-0 lead.
"It was a good catch, I saw the ball in the air and had to make an adjustment at the last second and went up and got it. That is what (wide receivers) Coach Bouknight teaches us, to go up and get it at it highest point and to be the better player on certain plays and I think that I did that on this one," Moats said.
Sophomore Travis Reynolds snared seven receptions for 58 yards with a score, a 15-yard TD toss from Kennedy that capped the day's scoring and gave Blue the 33-7 win.
The White team was led by senior wide receiver Xavier Martin with 11 catches for 145 yards.
"The spring game itself was beautiful, to be able to switch up the teams with first team, second team, white and blue and everyone responded. The white team was a little out-numbered because all of the ones were on the blue side but we showed up and we did what we had to do and we got it done," Martin said.
Redshirt-freshman tight end Keegan Andersen snared two catches for 41 yards, 36 coming on a TD pass from Hart for White's lone score of the day.
Sophomore running back Kerwynn Williams led the Blue team with five carries for 55 yards while junior running back Joey DeMartino had three carries for 21 yards, including a 5-yard TD scamper that opened the scoring for the Blue team. Sophomore wide receiver, Rashard Stewart, a converted cornerback from last season, scored from 23-yards out on an end-around. The White team was led by redshirt-freshman Paul Clark with 10 yards on three carries.
As big as the QB's numbers passing were, the defense for both sides was able to get some pressure on them, registering 13 sacks on the day. Sophomore Jake Doughty had two of the Blue team's seven sacks while redshirt-freshman linebacker Parker Hausknecht had half of the White's six sacks.
Doughty led the Blue defense with eight tackles on the day, while fellow sophomore linebacker Zach Vigil and sophomore cornerback Nevin Lawson added five stops apiece. Redshirt-freshman safety Frankie Sutera led the White team with eight tackles while junior cornerback and converted wide receiver, Dontel Watkins added seven stops. Hausknecht and junior cornerback Jamaine Olson had six tackles each.
"We had a very good productive day on the blue side as far as defensive wise. We were swarming to the ball today against the offense and according to some of the other safeties on the white side, they felt like they had a good scrimmage as well," McClenton said.
McClenton was one of the few veteran players to play in Saturday's Spring Game, as the USU coaches held out several of the Aggies players on both offense and defense, allowing many of the reserves to shine.
"If you sit down and look at it there is about 15 or 16 kids that did not play today. It is a great opportunity to see whether its blue or white to see some young men that haven't played a lot of football in those real live situations. Overall, we got what we were looking for. With the blues being the first team and the whites being the second team you would think it would be a lopsided match-up and it was," Andersen said.
Utah State will return 46 letterwinners (28 offense, 17 defense, one special teams), including 16 starters (nine offense, six defense, one special teams), from last season's 4-8 overall mark, and 2-6 in Western Athletic Conference play, in Andersen's second season at the helm of the Aggie program.
USU opens the 2011 season on Saturday, Sept. 3 at defending national champion Auburn. The Aggies will tangle with the Tigers for the first time ever and be USU's first Southeastern Conference opponent since Arkansas in 2006.
Utah State football will be playing in a nationally televised game for the third season in a row, as the Aggies' 2011 game at in-state rival Brigham Young will be on ESPN. The Aggies and Cougars will tangle on Friday, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. (MT) at Provo, Utah, and a nationally televised audience will watch the battle for the Old Wagon Wheel on ESPN, in the 81st meeting between USU and BYU, and on a Friday night for the 14th time in the last 18 meetings since 1987.
Utah State's home opener is on Saturday, Sept. 10 at 6 p.m. (MT), taking on in-state foe Weber State, marking the first time that USU and WSU have squared off since 2001, and Utah State leads the all-time series, 11-1. The Aggie-Wildcat match-up will have special meaning for Andersen, who will be facing his mentor, Weber State head coach Ron McBride. Andersen played for McBride at Utah in 1985-86.
For USU football ticket information, contact the USU Ticket Office at the Dee Glen Smith Spectrum, or by phone by calling 1-888-USTATE-1 or (435) 797-0305.
Fans can follow the Aggie football program at twitter.com/USUFootball. Aggie fans can also follow the Utah State athletic program at twitter.com/USUAthletics or on facebook at Utah State University Athletics.