WASHINGTON, DC -April 16--It was only fitting that defense be
the deciding factor in the Howard University Blue-White Spring Game
at Greene Stadium. Matthew Vann’s 38-yard interception
return proved to be the difference as the Blue squad defeated the
White team, 10-7 in a defensive struggle.
After a scoreless first quarter that featured six punts and three fumble recoveries, the South team got on the board just before the half. Sophomore quarterback Randy Liggins, Jr. capped off a 5-play drive with a 38 yard strike to red-shirt sophomore wide receiver Clayton Gidron with 22 ticks left on the clock to take a 7-0 lead at the half.
The defenses continued to control the action through most of the third quarter until red-shirt junior quarterback Jarad Dorsey put together a 6-play, 43-yard drive that was culminated by a 25-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker Parker Munoz. That closed the margin to 7-3 with 1:17 left in the third period.
That seemed to swing momentum to the Blue squad. After the White team picked up a first down on the ensuing possession, the Blue team forced them into a third and 12 from the 37-yard line. Vann then made what would prove to be the play of the game.
The 5-9, 220-pound junior linebacker stepped in front of the intended receiver, picked off the pass and zigzagged his way for the 38-yard return with 8:05 left.
The White team was not done and had four possessions in the last eight minutes, but each time they had an opportunity, the Blue team came up with a big sack or a key stop.
“Overall, I was pleased with the effort on both sides of the ball,” said Howard Coach Gary “Flea” Harrell. “The overall objective is to bring passion and pride back to the program. I think you saw some of that today. There was some hesitancy early but as the game got close, you could see the level competitiveness rise.”
He continued, “I think that we are going to be very competitive on defense. Offensively, we have to address the key positions of quarterback, running back and wide receivers. We need playmakers. We want to establish an identity of explosiveness on offense.”
There were some individuals who stood out. Vann, sophomore linebacker Markee White and sophomore defensive back Jibril Ezell all caught the attention of Coach Harrell.
“Vann is a walk-on player who I have been impressed with,” said Harrell. “He is a bit undersized, but he is a very smart player who is always in the right position.”
Markee White is a high energy player who comes off the edge very well. He had a very game today. And Ezell is going to be a good player for us.”
Harrell also noted the play of running backs, red-shirt junior Jarren Brown and sophomore running back Justin Duncan and Clayton Gidron.
One of the areas of concern for Harrell going in was that if the kicking game. Place kickers Parker Munoz and Matthew Jacobs and punter Bryan Jackson got mixed reviews.
“They all started slow but they performed better as we got late into the game with some good kicks,” observed Harrell. “The big things is that we have to work on them getting stronger and buidling their confidence.” All three kickers are sophomores.