Football: Blue victorious over Red 31-21 in annual spring game

Team shows new offensive look in final event of Spring football calendar.


Senior Jeremy Gaskins avoids two defenders while getting a 1st down. Mohammed F Emran | Web Editor.

Zakaria Sadik, Contributing Writer

The Owls’ first-team offense led the blue team to a 31-21 victory in FAU’s 15th annual Red vs Blue spring game Saturday.

The game started off quickly, as rising junior backup quarterback Greg Hankerson ran 65 yards for a touchdown on the second play from scrimmage to give the Red team the first points of the game.

Senior starting quarterback Jaquez Johnson —  the only player on the field wearing the ‘no contact’ green jersey — participated in just three drives, all coming in the first half.

On those possessions, he led the offense on two scoring drives, both capped off by short touchdown runs by sophomore running back Greg Howell.

Howell, who also lined up at receiver a few times, wanted to make sure he showed some versatility.  “I’ll do whatever coach Partridge wants me to do,” he said.

But perhaps no quarterback was more surprising to fans than freshman Daniel Parr, who threw for two touchdowns, including a 48-yard pass to freshman receiver Bobby Mitchell.

Johnson was impressed by Parr’s showing. “He made a lot of good throws that a lot of freshman in the nation probably couldn’t make,” he said.

Head coach Charlie Partridge said Parr’s performance was not surprising to him, calling Parr very gifted: “I’d be surprised if it wasn’t that way,” he said, adding that he’s interested to watch Parr develop through the “peaks and valleys that come along with being such a young player.”

Parr was humble in assessing his own performance, saying there are plenty of areas he can improve on. “I’m not happy with how I performed today,” he says. “I’d say I’m satisfied.”

Partridge went on to divulge that there was no clear backup at the position and that all three quarterbacks would be given a fair shake. “There’s a battle for that second spot with all three of them, with [Parr], [Hankerson], and [freshman] Jason Driskel.”

Of the competition for the backup quarterback job, Parr is fully aware of where he stands. “I think about it every day…” he said. “There might be other guys ahead of me right now, but my goal is to work hard to move ahead of those guys mentally and physically.”

The game was highlighted by strong performances in the trenches. Partridge called the offensive line the “most improved position group” on the team, adding, “Compared to a year ago, it’s not even close.”

The offensive line play paved the way for solid showings by running backs Jeremy Gaskins (senior), Trey Rodriguez (freshman) – who added a touchdown – and Howell.

Of the play at running back, Partridge seemed pleasantly surprised. “All of them have multiple talents,” he said. “There’s good competition in that group.” The team went to the pistol formation on occasion to create diversions, and open running lanes with several options.

Howell called the running backs a “tight-knit group. We encourage each other. We work to make each other better.”

The defensive line provided consistent pressure by squeezing the quarterback out of the pocket, batting down a handful of balls at the line, and adding three sacks.

Neither team committed a turnover throughout the game. The team didn’t play a handful of players for precautionary reasons, including juniors Jay Warren (running back) and Robert Relf (linebacker), as well as sophomores Raekwon Williams (defensive back) and Dustin Bowens (tight end).

“A lot of those guys are pretty close to where they could’ve been active today,” Partridge said.

Johnson is delighted that his final go-round of spring practice is over, saying, “I’m very happy, I wish I could throw a party right now.”

The beginning of June will mark the start of an eight-week training program that takes the team all the way to the start of the 2015 season. Sept. 5 is the first game of the season, a road game at Tulsa.