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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports football

Running backs shine in spring game

Running back Darius Willis tries to evade safety Kyle Detrick during the Spring Game on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. The Crimson team won 28-27.

IU coach Bill Lynch stressed  last week the importance of an improved rushing attack.

The Hoosiers’ renewed emphasis on the backfield was evident Saturday afternoon, as Demetrius McCray and Darius Willis led the Crimson team to a 28-27 win in the Spring Game.

McCray rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown, while Willis added 80 yards and a touchdown of his own.

The Cream team’s running backs were equally impressive in the four 12-minute quarters. Junior running back Trea Burgess rushed for 92 yards and two touchdowns, and senior running back Bryan Payton gained 47 yards on the ground.

“We’re getting a lot better,” Willis said. “The blocking has been good, we were reading our keys good, and the running backs are just playing tough right now. Everybody wants the rock, but we are just going to go out there and work as a team.”

IU junior quarterback Ben Chappell was 14-22 with two touchdowns and 205 yards in the air for the Cream team.

The first score in the game came with 4:03 remaining in the opening quarter. McCray took a handoff from sophomore quarterback Teddy Schell and scampered four yards to the left portion of the end zone for a touchdown.

Chappell responded with 4:47 left in the second quarter, tying the game with his 5-yard touchdown pass to senior tight end Troy Wagner.

The Crimson team entered halftime with a 14-7 lead after Willis scored from 17 yards out with 3:36 remaining.

While the third quarter had little offensive firepower, the fourth was a different story.
On the first play from scrimmage, Crimson freshman quarterback Adam Follett threw a 30-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Damarlo Belcher for a touchdown and a 14-point advantage.

The Cream team evened the score at 21 after Burgess rushed for two touchdowns of 30 and 35 yards.

With 1:01 remaining in the game, Schell threw a 48-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Chris Banks for a 28-21 lead.

Just 18 seconds later, Chappell connected with Payton down the right sideline for a 48-yard touchdown and a chance to send the game into overtime. But rather than kick the field goal, the Cream team elected to try for a two-point conversion run by Burgess.

Tackled almost immediately after he received the ball, Burgess and the Cream team failed to score and fell one point short of a victory.

Despite his team’s loss, Chappell said he was pleased with how both teams looked Saturday.

“I think we have improved a lot this spring on offense, and we have to keep going this summer,” he said. “The line played great, and we ran the ball really good. All of those guys up front have improved, and I feel really comfortable with them all.”

One noticeable difference from last year’s team is a much-improved offensive line. The improved protection allowed Crimson running backs to gain 181 yards on the ground and 138 for the Cream.

Belcher, who had 82 yards receiving and a touchdown, said the offensive line’s protection led to a high-scoring game.

“We only had 10 linemen, and they played the whole game without breaks,” he said. “(The offensive line) has improved a lot since last year. They got stronger, faster, worked hard during the offseason and came out here and proved it today.”

Lynch said Chappell has made great strides during the offseason and looked sharp during the Spring Game.

“He’s such a smart guy, and it translates on the field,” Lynch said of his quarterback. “He sees all 11 on defense, and there are few I have ever coached that have the ability to do that.”

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