White earns Steak Dinner with 14-7 win in Spring Game

April 8, 2006 · MT Media Relations

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Eugene Gross capped a first-rate spring season with a resounding performance in the "Blue-White Spring Game" to help lead the White squad to a 14-7 win in front of 1,806 at an unseasonably cold Floyd Stadium Saturday.

  • Photos: Spring Game Gallery One, Gallery Two

    Gross rushed for 158 yards on 21 carries and scored both of his team's touchdowns on runs of 6 and 65 yards, respectively, to spearhead a 358-yard offensive outburst. Gross, a rising senior from Statesboro, Ga., also had four receptions for 30 yards.

    "Eugene had a great game today, and he's had a great spring," Middle Tennessee first-year coach Rick Stockstill said. "(Gross) didn't do anything today I had not seen all spring. He's a very unselfish player and he's the best player on this football team."

  • Gross was only part of the story for the White squad as quarterback Patrick Jackson also had a very effective afternoon. Jackson completed 16-of-23 passes for 200 yards. He also had two interceptions.

    In all, the White squad totaled 358 offensive yards and averaged 6.1 yards on its 59 plays. The big story for the White team was its ability to move the chains and keep drives alive by converting 8-of-11 third-down conversions, including three successful conversions on its opening drive that resulted in a 6-yard touchdown run by Gross.

    "We were focused and we wanted to come out and win this game," Gross said. "I thought everyone played well. We made plays and kept the chains moving. This is a great way to end the spring because it was a productive spring for all of us. We were able to get to know our new coaches and they were able to get to know us. I think it was productive."

    The Blue squad received the ball first; however, quarterback Clint Marks was intercepted by Reggie Doucet deep in their own territory and the White squad took over at its 7. That's when Jackson, a rising junior, calmly and meticulously helped engineer a 14-play, 93-yard drive that culminated in Gross' 6-yard scamper. Matt King's point after was successful and the White squad was staked to a 7-0 lead.

    The Blue squad finally got on the scoreboard three possessions later when Marks fired an 8-yard scoring pass to Stephen Chicola to cap a 12-play, 75-yard drive to knot the score at 7-7 following Colby Smith's successful point after attempt.

    One play later Gross put the exclamation point on his remarkable spring and capped the scoring when he took the handoff from Jackson and raced 65 yards, breaking two tackles in the process, to stake his team to a 14-7 lead, following King's extra point. It was a lead the White squad would not relinquish as its defense stiffened and wouldn't budge.

    The Blue squad had a chance to score and send the game into overtime on its final possession when Marks marched the team from its 20 to the White's 27 with under one minute remaining; however, the southpaw field general was intercepted by Lonnie Clemons at the 9 to end the game.

    Marks had a productive afternoon as he completed 17-of-24 passes for 261 yards, but he also was sacked three times and was guilty of two interceptions. In all, the Blue squad racked up 294 yards on 42 plays, but managed to reach the end zone just once. The White squad's defense was sterling as it limited the Blue to 3-of-9 on third-down conversions and also collected three sacks and forced the two interceptions.

    Linebacker J.K. Sabb led the White squad with seven tackles, including two for loss, one sack and one pass break-up, while Doucet finished with four tackles and an interception.

    "We just had to go out there and make plays today. This was a game," Sabb said. "We wanted a steak dinner and we went out and earned it at their expense."

    The Blue squad had its share of defensive superlatives, as well, with defensive end Sean Mosley collecting eight tackles, including three sacks. Linebackers Marcus Brandon and Chance Dunleavy also had eight tackles each.

    Scoring Summary
    First Quarter
    5:57 - White - Gross 6 run (King kick) 14-93-2:04
    Second Quarter
    4:04 - Blue - Chicola 8 pass from Marks (Smith kick) 12-75-4:25 3:51 - White - Gross 65 run (King kick) 1-65-0:13

    Team statistics
                                B            W
    First Downs            14           19
    Rushing Att./Yds     15-34       34-153
    Passing Yards         260          205
    A-C-I                    27-18-2    25-17-3
    Plays-Yards            42-294     59-358
    Fumbles/Lost           2/1         1/1
    Punts/Avg.              3/43.7     1/42.0
    Int./Yards               3/7          2/9
    Third-down conv.     3-of-9      8-of-11
    Fourth-down conv.   1-of-1      0-of-1
    Sacks by                 3-26        3-19

    Individual Stats
    Rushing: White - Gross 21-158; Nix 10-21; Jackson 3- (minus) 26. Blue - McNair 10-32; Marks 5-2.

    Passing: White - Jackson 16-23-2 200 yards, Heard 1-2-1 5. Blue - Marks 17-24-2 261, Patterson 1-3-0 minus 1.

    Receiving: White - Grigsby 5-82, Taylor 4-64, Gross 4-30, Corder 2-18, Bell 1-6. Blue - Chicola 5-77, Henry 4-112, Cannon 3-23, Honeycutt 2-32, McNair 2-8, Paschall 1-8, Raymond 1-0.

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