Sunday, April 29, 2001

UC offense runs over defense

Jackson, Spencer rush for 220 yards

By Ryan Waldheger
Enquirer contributor

        Taking turns in the single-back offense, the Cincinnati Bearcats' talented stable of running backs carried the offense to a 37-24 victory over the defense in a modified version of the annual Red and Black spring game Saturday at Nippert Stadium.

        Ray Jackson, who led UC in rushing last season, had a game-high 129 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries.

        Charles Spencer ran for 91 yards (15 carries) and Nathan Wize had 40 yards (nine carries). DeMarco McCleskey did not play because of a sprained ankle.

        UC coach Rick Minter said it was the type of performance he's going to expect in the fall from the RBs.

        “Running the ball is what we're going to have to be able to do,” Minter said. “And hopefully, we can do more than that.”

        Senior Adam Hoover and junior John Leonard took turns at quarterback, directing the offense to five touchdowns and a field goal.

        Hoover was 9-of-21 for 129 yards. Leonard was 9-of-15 for 74 yards.

        “We don't have an incumbent, and you can tell it,” Minter said of the starting quarterback job. “It's a battle.”

        Hoover and Leonard are battling to replace three-year starter Deontey Kenner. UC signee Gino Guidugli (Highlands) will join the QB squabble when practice begins this fall.

        Hoover, playing with the second team, moved the ball well in the first half, throwing for 104 yards and a pair of TDs.

        “I threw some better balls in the first half, and the running game kept us going,” Hoover said.

        Starting out slowly, Leonard relied on his legs to propel the Bearcats to a couple of late scores.

        “I think any time you can move on the run it helps,” said Leonard, who ran 11 times for 13 yards.

        A few times Leonard didn't decide to run, and junior cornerback Blue Adams made him regret it.

        Adams intercepted two Leonard passes.

        With only 15 spring practices permitted by the NCAA, Minter's staff decided to use a modified format Saturday that pitted the offense against the defense.

        “You don't have time to have any fun days anymore,” he said. “With our 15th practice, we needed a full day's work of sticking to just offense and just defense. I really enjoyed the format and thought it went about as well as it could go.”

        THE FREAK II? One of last year's breakout performers, junior defensive end Antwan Peek (Woodward), showed the UC offense what other teams had to deal with throughout 2000.

        Sacking Leonard twice, Peek demonstrated the skills he sees in Tennessee Titans Pro Bowler Jevon Kearse.

        “I watch the NFL and I see a lot of players like Jevon Kearse constantly chasing the ball,” he said. “And that's where I want to be (the NFL), so I do what I've got to do to get the ball. That's my goal this year, to get the ball.”

        Peek said he has been working on recognizing the offensive sets and anticipating the play.

        “Last year I was just rushing for the pass every play and when they'd run, I'd overpursue,” he said.

        GAME TIME: Despite the altered format of the Red and Black game, the players said the scrimmage still had their competitive juices flowing.

        “The intensity was there,” Jackson said. “You are out there playing in front of people and your families. It's there.”

        MORE QB: Hoover and Leonard share more than the desire to become UC's starting quarterback.

        Both have transferred twice, both are California natives and both covet the starting job that has always eluded them in college.

        Hoover confesses: “We are almost identical.”

        Hoover attended BYU (1998) and Saddleback Junior College (1999). Leonard was at El Camino Col lege (1998) and Arizona State (1999), where he played in 10 games, including the Aloha Bowl.

        “We both understand what we're trying to do here,” Hoover said. “I hope we both have time to compete and that they do whatever is better for the team.”

        Defense ....... 13 4 5 2—24

        Offense ....... 7 13 7 10—37

        First Quarter

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Def—Three points for forcing turnover (Blue Adams interception)

        Off—Daven Holley 38 pass from Adam Hoover (Jonathan Ruffin kick)

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Def—Three points for forcing turnover (Ben Piening fumble recovery)

        Def—Three points for forcing turnover (Akanni Turner fumble recovery)

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Second Quarter

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Off—LaDaris Vann four pass from Hoover (kick failed)

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Off—A.J. Lucius four pass from Leonard (Ruffin kick)

        Third Quarter

        Def—Three points for forcing turnover (Adams interception)

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Off—John Leonard eight run (Ruffin kick)

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Fourth Quarter

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Def—One point for forcing punt

        Off—Ray Jackson three run (Ruffin kick)

        Off—Ruffin 27 field goal


        RUSHING—Jackson 16-129, Spencer 15-91, Wize 9-40, Hoover 11-37, Harris 11-28, Leonard 11-13.

        PASSING—Hoover 9-21-0-129, Leonard 9-15-2-74.

        RECEIVING—Olinger 3-53, Vann 3-30, Drewery 2-27, Holly 2-39, Wize 2-16, Lucius 2-12, Hamilton 1-14, Dunbar 1-10, Keith 1-4, Jackson 1-1.


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