By Duane Cochran
Times West Virginian
As spring games go, Fairmont State University’s annual Maroon-White contest Thursday evening at Duvall-Rosier Field ran pretty much to form.
Using a modified scoring system that awarded points to the defense for turnovers and stops, the Falcons’ Maroon (defensive unit) came up with three turnovers and a number of stops to roll to a 40-18 victory over the White (offensive unit) in front of more than 500 fans eager to get their first glimpse of the new-look Falcons.
First-year Fairmont State head coach Jason Woodman knew last night’s game wouldn’t be an accurate depiction of what he hopes his team will look like in the fall. The Falcons have had to deal with a serious lack of depth all spring and are counting on a number of newcomers in the fall to play vital roles for the team.
“I think we dressed 46 guys tonight and we’ve got 42 new guys coming in this fall, so in all honestly half of our team wasn’t here tonight,” Woodman said Thursday. “Obviously, we’re not where we want to be, but knowing that, I saw some good things out there tonight and some bad things.
“For the most part I thought we functioned well. One time we only had 10 guys on the field, but other than that we got lined up correctly, we snapped the ball and we didn’t have a whole lot of missed assignments. Now, I do think we made some bad plays, but given the situation I kind of expected that. I think I expected a little more out of our running game than I saw tonight, but at the same time you’ve got to credit our defense. They were out there flying around, making plays and they did a good job of putting pressure on our backfield.”
One individual who made a number of plays was senior-to-be inside linebacker Garrett Davis, who recorded a game-high 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops, one sack and two tackles for losses. He also recovered one fumble and broke up one pass attempt.
“I feel like we did a pretty good job as a unit tonight out there,” said Davis. “We know we’ve got things to work on and areas that we can improve in before next fall. All in all, though, I thought we did a decent job of picking up the new keys and making plays.
“As for me, I feel like I progressed this spring like I have every spring. I still have areas I want to improve upon and that’s going to be one of my main goals going into fall camp.”
In addition to Davis’ fumble recovery and sack, the Falcons’ defense got sacks from senior defensive end Jake Kelly and senior nose guard Anthony Domico and a fumble recovery from redshirt freshman defensive back Jordan Lacy and an interception from redshirt freshman cornerback Jacob Jean-Charles.
Offensively the Falcons rolled up 261 yards of total offense on 75 plays. The majority of those yards came through the air. Sophomore quarterback Tyler Pate completed 7-of-20 passes for 141 yards and one touchdown — a 74-yard strike to redshirt freshman wide receiver Vondel Bell, who led all receivers with four receptions for 126 yards and one TD.
“The touchdown was two slants coming off of the quick game,” said Pate, who was intercepted once. “I knew the linebacker was going to cut off the end so I threw it right behind his ear hole and I knew once he had it Vondel would take off because he’s got good speed and the potential to make plays. He did a great job for us on that one.”
The Falcons dressed just four receivers for the game and because of the lack of depth at the receiver position, Bell has gotten a wealth of work this spring and it’s beginning to pay off for him.
“I’m pretty young. We had some guys suspended tonight so I felt like I needed to step up and try to do something for us offensively,” said Bell, who is from Wheeling. “Last year I was redshirted and I didn’t know the plays and offense that well. This year we have a new staff, I’ve gotten a lot of work and I’m learning a lot more. I like it. I still have a ways to go and I know that, but I’m ready to put the work in to get better.
“For what we had to work with tonight, I think we did all right.”
Senior quarterback C.J. Hopson completed just 3-of-15 passes for 25 yards, but ran for 31 yards on four carries. The Falcons were led on the ground by junior running back Daniel Monroe, who rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries.
“We know tonight wasn’t great by any means,” said Woodman. “I think we saw some good things we can build on and we’ll get busy correcting the bad things.
“We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. We know that. We’ve got to get better and we’ve got to get better in a hurry, but I think we’ve got a good core group of players who are willing to do what it takes to get us and this program to where we want it to be.”