The Times West Virginian


April 25, 2014

White tops Maroon in spring game: PHOTOS

FAIRMONT — As spring games go Thursday night's annual Maroon and White clash at Fairmont State's Duvall-Rosier went pretty much to form.

The White (defense), using a modified scoring system which awarded them points for stops, turnovers, three-and-out series and other things, recorded a 34-21 victory over the Maroon (offense).

However, on this night perhaps the most interesting question to come out of the contest is exactly who will be under center at quarterback for the Falcons when they open the 2014 season Thursday, Sept. 4 at home against Notre Dame College.

FSU returns sophomore-to-be starter Cooper Hibbs, who as a true freshman last fall started all 10 games for the team and threw for 1,604 yards and 12 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. Last night Hibbs saw limited action and completed all four of his pass attempts for 39 yards and one of the offense's two touchdowns – a nine-yard strike to Daniel Marc-Sears early in the first half.

The Falcons also have junior-to-be Tyler Pate, who has performed admirably in limited opportunities and last night completed 5-of-10 passes for 54 yards and one interception which was returned 38 yards by defensive back Wolf Shaw.

Then there's Cody Stevenson, who until last night, had been under the radar so to speak on the team because after transferring to FSU last fall from the University of Utah he was ineligible to play and thus spent all last fall quarterbacking the scout team against the Falcons' defense.

Thursday night the 6-foot-4, 210-pound junior from Draper, Utah, who prior to going to the University of Utah had quarterbacked NCAA Division II Dixie State for two seasons, got his chance with the starters at Fairmont State and was impressive. He completed 13-of-19 passes for 116 yards.

“Having a year off was obviously tough, but it was also an opportunity for me to learn this system and get comfortable with it,” said Stevenson. “This spring has been awesome for me. We implemented a whole other system and I love it. I think we all do. I feel like we've come out of the spring a better team.”

Stevenson says his relationship with the other FSU quarterbacks is a good one and the competition between them has helped them all improve.

“We're all pretty good friends and it's a situation where every day we go out and compete against each other, but in the locker room afterward we're all buddies,” he said. “Right now, I'd say it's pretty much anyone's job and it will be decided in fall camp, but I feel comfortable saying whoever gets the starting job can go out and win games for us.”

Second-year FSU coach Jason Woodman agrees.

“We've had a very good battle throughout the spring at quarterback,” said Woodman. “I think Cody has done a good job of picking up the offense. Last year he came in here and got to run our stuff for about two weeks and then he went to the scout team and ran other people's offenses every week. This is really the first time he had a chance to be part of our install and pick up the offense and he's done that very well.

“On the other hand there's something to be said for the experience that Cooper gained last year when he was our starter all 10 games. He did a very good job as a true freshman and of course Tyler is right there, too. All three of those guys have had good springs and we've had a good competition at the quarterback position. Hopefully throughout the summer and into fall camp we'll continue our progression there and have someone step up and take the job.”

The quarterbacks' favorite targets Thursday night were 6-foot-6 senior-to-be wide receiver Daniel Marc-Sears and 6-foot-3, 245-pound senior-to-be tight end Jeremiah Mathis, a transfer from the University of Virginia. Marc-Sears caught a game-high six passes for 39 yards and one TD, while Mathis caught five passes for 29 yards.

“We're working with a new offense and I'm a lot more comfortable with it and relaxed out there,” said Marc-Sears, who last season had 16 catches for 318 yards and a team-high four touchdowns. “This is only my fourth year at receiver so I'm still learning the position and still trying to improve, but I think I'm getting there. I still have stuff I need to work on, but I'm trying to make positive strides every day.”

The other touchdown last night for the offense came on a 14-yard run by Bernard Saunders. Drexel Mosby led the offense with 37 yards rushing on just eight carries.

Defensively, sophomore-to-be linebacker Josh Compton, a converted tight end, led the White with five tackles. Linebacker Tyler Benton added four tackles and one sack and linebacker Derrick Foxx had three stops, including a pair of sacks.

“All in all I think we had a pretty good spring,” said Woodman. “We didn't have a lot of numbers to work with, but we had guys show up every day ready and willing to work. We've still got a long way to go to get our program to where we want it to be, but I think the progress we've made with the program since January was better than we made the entire previous 12 months.

“Tonight we didn't show a whole lot on either side, but it was a productive spring for us and a good way to end it with the spring game, which I thought for the most part was pretty competitive. We saw a lot of good things on both sides of the ball.”

FSU opens fall camp on August 9.

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