Football shows glimpse of new season at spring game

Senior running back Willie Matthews scored three touchdowns for the purple team Saturday, April 12, as it beat the gray team 48-6 in UCA’s annual spring football game at Estes Stadium.

Matthews’ first score came early in the first quarter, with a one-yard run after the purple offense drove the team all the way down the field.

Matthews found the endzone again on another short-yardage carry near the goal line later in the first quarter as the purple team extended its lead to 14-0.

Junior kicker Jace Denker put the gray team on the scoreboard with a 31-yard field goal near the end of the first quarter, ending the quarter with a 14-3 lead for the purple team.

In the second, Matthews and the purple team struck again, this time with a three-yard touchdown run to make it 21-6.

Senior Ryan Howard started at quarterback for the purple team, while sophomore Hayden Hildebrand started for the gray team.

Junior quarterback Taylor Reed took over for the purple team and threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Dezmin Lewis to give the purple team a 25-point lead.

Denker added another field goal before halftime to make the score 28-6 in favor of the purple team at the half.

In the third quarter, junior running back Danzel Williams ran it in from one yard out for the purple team to make the score 34-6 after a failed extra point.

That was the only score from either team in the quarter.

In the fourth, Reed scrambled for an eight-yard touchdown run to increase the purple lead and make it 41-6.

Sophomore wide receiver Jatavious Wilson outran the defense 31 yards for a score on a rushing attempt late in the quarter, and it would be the game’s final score.

Junior quarterback Trey Schucker completed a long pass to sophomore wide receiver Jose Moore with no time left to end the game on a positive note for the gray team.

Sophomore wide receiver Desmond Smith talked about the offense’s progress this spring.

“I feel like the entire offense coped well with the new coaching changes. Dez Lewis and Jatavious Wilson had a great spring,” Smith said. “But [junior wide receiver]Courtney Whitehead, [senior wide receiver]Clay Murphy and [senior wide receiver]Damien Watts also performed very well.”

The Bears will begin their first season under head football coach Steve Campbell on Aug. 30 against the Texas Tech Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas.

“I’m so ready to see this team play next year,” Smith said. “The team has shown very well this spring.”

Watts said he is optimistic about the team next season.

“We are going to be as good as we want next year,” Watts said. “Coach Campbell brings a lot positive energy and we have all invested into what he brings to the table. Not being a selfish team can really take you a long way. I love this team and I think that once everyone gets on the same page we are not accepting anything short of a conference championship.”

Senior defensive back Marvin Mitchell talked about the defense.

“Working with the new staff and playing in their system was definitely different from what I’m accustomed here at UCA,” he said. “I think I should work on being a better leader and taking control of the secondary.”

“The sky is the limit when it comes to potential this season,” he said. “We have several playmakers returning on both sides of the ball. Our offense is really explosive and the defense is playing lights out. If we remain healthy, the 2014 team is going to make a serious playoff run.”

Winning in the playoffs starts in the spring, and Campbell will hope to prove Mitchell right when football season kicks off this fall.

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