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Redshirt freshman running back Justin Valentine caught a three-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Bryan Cupito with 44 seconds left to push the Maroon squad past the White team 21- 20 this afternoon in the annual Spring Game at the Metrodome.
Redshirt freshman Micah Rucker was the offensive star for the White team, catching three passes for 103 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown reception from junior quarterback Adam Ernst. Ernst threw for 216 yards on 9-of-14 passing. Sophomore wideout Mark Jundt also caught five passes for 95 yards.
The Maroon team was led by sophomore Laurence Maroney, who ran for 65 yards on eight carries, including a 54-yard touchdown run in the third quarter. Cupito finished with 68 yards passing on 9-of-16 passing. Redshirt freshman running back Amir Pinnix, who split time with both squads, ran for 74 yards on a combined 17 carries.
The Maroon team jumped out 7-0 on a surprise 53-yard touchdown scamper by Goldy Gopher. Goldy eluded several tacklers and ran down the sideline to give Maroon the early first quarter lead. The White team scored just a minute later when Ernst connected with Rucker on a 20-yard touchdown. Ernst also hooked up with Jundt for 46 yards on the drive.
The White squad took a 14-7 lead before halftime on a Pinnix two-yard run. Ernst had a 26-yard pass to Rucker and an 18-yarder to senior receiver Paris Hamilton on the drive.
Maroney tied the game at 14-14 with his 54-yard TD run in the third quarter. Junior Michael Jacobs put White back ahead 17-14 with a 31-yard field goal to cap a 65-yard drive. The White team went up 20-14 on a Jacobs 46-yard field goal after junior safety John Pawielski picked off Cupito.
Valentine capped an eight-play drive with the three-yard TD reception from Cupito on fourth down to end the scoring to give Maroon a 21-20 win.
Minnesota opens the 2004 season against Toledo on September 4 at the Metrodome.
2004 SPRING GAME QUOTES - April 17, 2004
GLEN MASON QUOTES
Mason General Comments
Today was about what I thought it would be. We have had a good spring practice and when you have experienced players on your football team sometimes spring practice becomes old hat and guys just want to get through it without getting an injury. We had some fun out here today. Goldy was the star (laughter) and I was glad to see that, but we have got a lot of good football players.
Were you concerned when Marion B arber III went down (with an injury)?
GM: I get concerned when any of the players go down. Sure, because of the caliber of player that he is and because you knew it was his knee - I could see that from the sideline - probably I was more nervous before the game because this is a contact sport and we have basically gone throughout spring practice without any injuries. Going into this game there was no one even on our injury list. We were going against the odds and I was just hoping that we could get through today.
What about the quarterback evaluation at this point?
GM: I think that Bryan Cupito going into two-a-days (in the fall) is our guy. He has got more experience and I think for his first spring practice being the No.1 quarterback running a veteran group he is doing a fine job.
Does that mean it is his job to lose going into two-a-days?
GM: I don't ever talk in terms like that. All jobs are open every day. No one owns a job here. Our guys realize they have to perform everyday or someone else is going to get a chance.
Do you feel you did a good job against the run?
GM: Yeah, we gave up a big play (on the Maroney TD run). We are not a good blitz team right now. Against the run - we're not. And on that big run we had a blitz. Normally the way we are playing you wouldn't be blitzing because your base defense is doing well, but you try to evaluate everything in a live situation during the scrimmage and we will get better in that area.
Do you see Amir (Pinnix) developing as your third back?
GM: Yeah, Amir has got to learn the position. Amir has some talent. He is probably the shiftiest guy that we have. I always think that Barber is the most powerful, Maroney is the fastest and the guy that has the jitterbug in him is Pinnix. Pinnix has got to be our Terry Jackson - a third running back that we develop that can go into the game and go the distance for us.
What did you think of Paris today?
GM: I thought he had his best practice since he has been at the University of Minnesota. I told him when he was done `you're back.' He took some hits and he made big plays and we need him.
What about playing on the new turf today?
GM: Tremendous. Compared to what we used to play on - it's unbelievable. Thank goodness it's here. It should have been here five, six, seven years ago.
ADAM ERNST, QB, Jr.
I felt a lot more comfortable today. I have been progressing each week and that is all I have been trying to do is get better each week.
Are you where you wanted to be at this point?
AE: I'm definitely not where I wanted to be. But then again, I wasn't sure coming in exactly where I would be. It has taken me a little while to learn the system and come two-a-days I am going to be ready and today was a good step for that. The main goal of spring practice for everybody is just to get better everyday and I felt better today.
What is your goal now for the summer?
AE: Film work, definitely, and knowing where the guys are going to be at in game situations is really going to help - and we had that today, and I will be ready come fall.
BRYAN CUPITO, QB, So.
The first half was kind of slow offensively, but then we picked it up in the second half when Laurence (Maroney) hit that run and we got a couple other plays. Today went alright- nothing great and nothing bad - it is just something to build on for the summer. I will see what I need to get better on for the summer and now I will watch film and get a better understanding of things I need to do.