Big Plays by Freshmen Highlight 2009 Spring Game

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The Maroon team got a touchdown from defensive tackle Antoine Hopkins, and that was the difference in their 13-7 victory over the White team in the 2009 Spring Game on Saturday afternoon.

Hopkins, a r-freshman from Richmond, had a big second half. He recorded two sacks, and then returned a Zac Evans fumble 20 yards for the winning touchdown. Kam Chancellor forced the fumble on a hard hit, Hopkins picked it up, and raced untouched into the endzone.

The Maroon team’s first score came on their first offensive play from scrimmage. Quarterback Ju-Ju Clayton hit r-freshman tailback Ryan Williams on a middle screen, and Williams took it 56 yards for the score. He followed his blocks perfectly, and then accelerated past the secondary for the score. The extra point was no good, and the Maroon team had to settle for an early 6-0 lead.

The White team was quarterbacked by Tyrod Taylor, who finished 16-of-33 for 188 yards and a touchdown. His three-yard touchdown pass to Dyrell Roberts on a fade in the corner of the endzone gave the White team a 7-6 lead at halftime. Roberts led all receivers with four catches for 65 yards.

Taylor was in a yellow jersey in this game, meaning that he could not be tackled. The play was blown dead whenever a Maroon defender touched him. The game ended when Taylor was touched on the Maroon two-yard line while trying to run in the game-winning touchdown.

Taylor’s counterpart, r-freshman Ju-Ju Clayton, did not have a good day. He was just 4-of-15 for 103 yards, with an interception. He was intercepted in the end zone by Kam Chancellor.

Despite not having great quarterback production, the Maroon team had the luxury of giving the ball to Ryan Williams. Williams was explosive all day, finishing with 10 carries for 85 yards. He also had two catches for 66 yards, including the 56 yard touchdown to open the game.

Williams had two of the three biggest plays of the game. Besides the 56 yard reception, he also had a 36 yard run. Dyrell Roberts had the second biggest play of the game, gaining 40 yards on a pass from Tyrod Taylor.

Tailbacks Josh Olgesby and Darren Evans missed the Spring Game with injuries, so the White team was forced to play two true freshmen at tailback. Zac Evans, a r-freshman walk-on, had a good day overall, but his critical fumble in the second half was the difference in the game. The other tailback used by the White team was Tony Gregory, who spent the majority of the spring at wide receiver.

After Dyrell Roberts, two other young players also had a good day catching the football. Chris Drager, a r-sophomore tight end, had four catches for 41 yards. Marcus Davis had three catches for 48 yards less than a week after moving from quarterback to wide receiver.

An estimated 41,000 people attended Saturday’s Spring Game. Virginia Tech will open the 2009 season on September 5, when they take on Alabama in the Georgia Dome.

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