While the top-3 players taken in yesterday’s NFL draft were on the offensive side of the ball, it was the football team’s defense that dominated during Saturday’s Red-White Spring game. The White team, made up of the defense, topped the Red team, made up of the offense, 41-20.
“The spring season is a competition all [season long],” said head coach Jim Knowles ’87. “The offense is better some days; the defense was better today.”
[img_assist|nid=23267|title=Sumo wrestler.|desc=Junior safety Tim Bax — who helped the White team to a victory on Saturday — changes his direction in the Red’s 14-7 defeat of No. 15 Princeton on October 28.|link=node|align=left|width=86|height=100]
The defense was spotted 29 points at the beginning of the game, but that did not stop it from scoring points of its own, as it returned two interceptions for a touchdown. Sophomore Tim Bax had a standout performance on defense, as he picked off three Red passes, including one for a touchdown, and added three tackles. Freshman Blake Thomas made an acrobatic interception falling onto his back and sophomore Gus Krimm also notched a pick for the White squad. Sophomore Anthony Sabo drew cheers for a monster hit while breaking up a pass down the sideline.
“We were flying around, swarming the ball,” Bax said. “I felt like we had 12 people out there today.”
Besides its play in the secondary, the White team notched six sacks on the multitude of Red quarterbacks, including two apiece by Thomas and sophomore Lucas McCarthy. Junior Doug Lempa led the team with nine total tackles.
“[The defense] played confidently and made a lot of plays,” Knowles said.
On offense, the Red team played its first game under new offensive coordinator Bruce Barnum. Sophomore starting quarterback Nathan Ford, who passed for 1417 yards and eight touchdowns last season, did not play due to his obligation as a third baseman on the baseball team.
Without Ford, freshman Stephen Liuzza started the game and threw for 65 yards, but five total quarterbacks saw action for the Red squad. Freshman Ben Ganter had the best day statistically, throwing for 104 yards and a touchdown to classmate and former high school teammate Matt Kenney. Sophomore Tyler Lucas threw for 85 yards while classmates Tom Piselli and Shane Connolly also saw action.
“We have a new offensive coordinator, and we have had the same defense for a few years,” Knowles said. “The offense needs to continue to get in a new system. … We expect our offense to be fine.”
Junior running back Luke Siwula, who ran for 885 yards last season, saw some action in the game. He ran 13 times for 27 yards, and scored the Red team’s first touchdown, a five-yard scamper in the first half. He was running behind an offensive line that included sophomore Steve Valenta, the only starter from last season who played in the spring game. In the fall, Valenta will team with fifth year seniors Brian McGuire and Ted Sonnenberg as returning starters on the line.
The spring game was a culmination of 12 spring practices which were held over the course of 16 days. The team tried to get comfortable with three new offensive coaches roaming the sidelines. As the loser of the game, the Red team, along with its coaching staff, washed cars yesterday at Shortstop Deli for charity, benefiting the Family and Children’s Service of Ithaca.
“We have been going at it,” Bax said. “It was almost like a regular practice out there.”