Rapid Reaction: Gold 21, Maroon 7
They were without quarterback Cooper Rush. And running back Romello Ross. And safety Tony Annese. Even the t-shirt cannon had the day off for Saturday's spring football game.
Instead, it was redshirt freshman Jake Johnson, senior Jahray Hayes and redshirt freshman Jamil Sabbagh making plays on offense — all for the gold team. The gold team beat the maroon squad 21-7 on Saturday.
While Rush has the top spot locked up, Saturday's game allowed coaches to see who's best fit to be the backup.
Johnson threw for two touchdowns for the gold team, including one to Sabbagh — who finished with three catches for 45 yards. Johnson finished 10-of-13 for 120 yards with the two touchdowns.
"I've been looking forward to this for a long time," Johnson said. "It feels weird being back out on the field. It's been about a year-and-a-half since I played my last game."
Sophomore transfer Tommy Lazzaro was 5-of-15 with 77 yards. He hit redshirt freshman Damon Terry for a 55-yard deep pass for maroon's only touchdown of the game.
"I thought both quarterbacks, once they settled in, were much better than they were in the first half," said Head Coach John Bonamego. "I thought Jake (Johnson) did a little bit better job of keeping his eyes downfield and delivering some timely throws."
Instead of the normal 15-minute quarters, each quarter lasted 12 minutes. There was a running clock in the second half. The game finished in less than an hour and a half in front of 3,053 fans.
Ross is nursing a minor shoulder injury while Rush had some tightness in his back, although Bonamego said they would have played if it were the regular season.
Hayes was the leading rusher for either team, with six carries, 31 yards and a touchdown. He also had three catches for 11 yards.
Redshirt freshman Matt Krause had 17 yards on three carries, Berkley Edwards had seven yards on four carries and sophomore Trent Grimes had 10 yards on two carries.
On defense, junior defensive lineman Mitch Stanitzek led both teams with four tackles and one sack. Joe Ostman, who missed most of last season with a left ankle injury, had three tackles and one sack.
"In our meetings prior to the spring game, Coach (Greg) Colby told us, 'It may not be everyone else's goal, but we want the score to be 0-0 at the end. Didn't quite get there, but we'll take (it)," Ostman said.
CMU's first game of the season is Sept. 1 against Presbyterian at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
"We want to be the number one defense in the country next year," Ostman said.
Keep up with Central Michigan Life for more on Saturday's spring football game.