Late scores lead Blue to victory in spring game
By ZACH BOND
GREELEY -- The Northern Colorado Blue scored two touchdowns late in the fourth quarter Saturday to come away with a 21-13 win over White in the annual "Battle of the Bears" spring game at the Butler-Hancock practice fields.
Down 13-7 late in the fourth quarter, Mason Walters, a junior safety, blocked a Dave Eden punt that was recovered and returned for a touchdown by freshman Tyler Bloyer.
The special teams plays kept coming for Blue, too, as it forced another turnover against Emmanuel Hamilton on the ensuing kickoff. Clinton Franz, a junior transfer from Mesa Community College, forced a fumble from Hamilton, which was recovered by Bloyer (Aurora, Colo.) and returned to the 13-yard line.
Two plays later, quarterback Tim Tancik (Denver, Colo.) put Blue up 20-13 with a 13-yard touchdown pass to senior Austin Wilbers. Eden put threw the extra point and put Blue up 21-13.
"I'm glad we got through the game with no injuries," Northern Colorado coach Ernest Collins said. "The main thing for that game is to come through it without any further injuries from the spring. When you split the team up like that and have guys playing out of position, doing things they wouldn't normally do, [injuries] happen.
"Overall, I'm excited about what's coming back and where we're going heading into the summer."
Tancik finished his day 2-of-3 through the air for 23 yards and that touchdown pass.
Senior Seth Lobato (Eaton, Colo.) was the quarterback who saw the most playing time for Blue, finishing 12-of-22 with 91 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown came in the game's opening drive, when he led his offense on a nine play, 65-yard drive that ended in a seven-yard touchdown pass to Dimitri Stimphill.
"The thing you like about Seth is he's going to put the ball where it needs to be--the open spot," Collins said. "From top to bottom, if our offensive line comes around, we should have a really special season [next year] from our offensive unit."
Stimphill, a junior from Homestead, Fla., proved to be Lobato's favorite target on the afternoon, finishing with six catches and 61 yards, including that first-quarter touchdown.
Stimphill finished last year with 32 catches and 325 yard, and he will be expected to step up his production in 2013 with the graduation of All-Big Sky performer Dominic Gunn.
"Dimitri has to step up and fill in that spot that Dominic Gunn left," Collins said. "He has all the skills and had a great offseason. The kid is lightning fast, and we just have to put the ball in his hands. His role will expand for us in the return game and on offense, so I'm looking forward to some big things from that young man."
The game, as perhaps would be expected with players playing in positions they may not be used to, featured five turnovers between the two teams, including two Blue fumbles in the first quarter.
The biggest turnover came in the second quarter, though, when junior cornerback Courtney Hall (Pompano Beach, Fla.) made a play on a Lobato pass and returned an interception 15 yards for a touchdown. Hall's score tied the game at 7-7.
Blue's rushing attack was led by senior Tromaine Dennis (Jersey City, N.J.), last season's leading rusher for Northern Colorado, who finished the day with 46 rushing yards on five carries.
White's offense was headed by the freshmen quarterback tandem of Jyron Walters and Sean Rubalcaba.
Walters (New Orleans, La.) was the leading passer in the game, finishing with 131 yards on 9-of-17 attempts. Rubalcaba finished his day 2-for-2 for 11 yards.
Walters' favorite target all day was sophomore wideout Malcom Whye (Denver, Colo.), who finished with 48 yards on four catches.
Both defenses were strong all day, especially when it came to getting pressure on the quarterback. The defenses combined for 10 sacks,w ith Isiah Jones and Gavin Miller both coming up with a pair of sacks for White. Five players recorded sacks for Blue.
Eden (Westminster, Colo.) held the kicking and punting duties for both sides during the game and finished with three punts, averaging 43.3 yards per punt. He missed his only field goal attempt, a 48-yarder.