GREENVILLE, N.C. - New Hanover graduate Trevon Brown exploded for nearly 170 yards receiving to help lift the Gold squad to a 21-14 victory over the Purple unit as ECU concluded spring practice Saturday with its annual Purple-Gold Game on Bagwell Field inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
The Gold team, directed by defensive coordinator David Blackwell, also benefited from swarming pressure that netted three sacks, 10 tackles for lost yardage and held the Purple rushing attack to just 19 yards on 24 carries - an average of 0.8 yards per attempt.
On the other hand, offensive coordinator Tony Petersen's Purple unit featured a pair of 100-yard receivers in Brown (9-169) and Duce Fuller (5-114), while quarterback Holton Ahlers completed 12-of-18 passes for a game-high 205 yards.
Collectively, the two teams committed only two turnovers in 19 overall possessions and came close to matching each other in total yardage with a 352 (Gold) to 314 (Purple) ledger.
"It was, all around, a great day," head coach Scottie Montgomery said. "The competition between the Purple and the Gold was good to see, and yes, there were some bragging rights. I can't really talk much about what is going to happen between the Gold and the Purple, but let's just say it was a big deal that the Gold won and the Purple lost. It will be interesting to see how the week plays out."
The Purple defense had its moments as well, getting on the board first thanks to a jarring fumble-producing hit by Devon Sutton following an Anthony Watley reception. Cole Nigro scooped up the loose ball at the 30-yard line and rambled into the endzone for an early 7-0 lead.
"That was a big hit," Montgomery commented. "I haven't seen many of those since I have been here. We tackled much better today than we have tackled in a long time, especially in the open field."
Christian, who rushed for 97 yards on 15 carries, capped the ensuing Gold possession with a one-yard plunge to tie the contest before adding a four-yard scoring run to close out the first half of action.
Kingsley Ifedi's first drive of the afternoon was a productive one. After connecting with Brown on 37, 28 and 19-yard completions to move the Purple into the redzone, he made it a 14-14 game with a two-yard run midway through the third quarter. Fuller also accounted for big plays on his way to the century mark, hauling down 47, 25 and 20-yarders from Ahlers.
However, Herring's ability to engineer a game-deciding possession with a critical 19-yard toss to Jonathan Johnson and Christian's breakaway 22-yard touchdown run fueled the Gold to a 21-14 victory in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Raequan Purvis topped the Purple with six stops while Bruce Bivens added five hits, including two for lost yardage. For the Gold, Colby Gore netted six stops and Kendall Futrell wreaked havoc from his end position with five tackles, three coming from behind the line of scrimmage for -12 yards.
"We got a lot of familiarity with kids that we were in their homes recruiting," Montgomery said, reflecting back on the entire spring practice period. "The response of what we asked them to do away from the field, on the field, in the spring and then the additions of a good portion of our defensive staff and the way that has had a positive impact on our defensive players is the biggest thing we have seen.
"Offensively, we have a couple of guys that can flat out throw the ball. We split up all our skill today and I look over and there is Blake Proehl, Leroy Henley, Darius Pinnix, Anthony Scott and all those guys on the sideline (injured) so now you start to feel like our talent level is where it needs to be. It's a good feeling and that is probably the biggest takeaway. I really like the stamp that this defensive staff has put on these kids."
The Pirates open their 2018 season against North Carolina A&T at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 1.
Seven players were recognized for their efforts during spring drills during a halftime ceremony: Offensive MVP ("Work The Body") - OL Cortez Herrin; Defensive MVP ("Work The Body") - DB Colby Gore; Special Teams MVP ("Work The Body") - Colby Gore; Most Improved Offensive Player - WR Deondre Farrier; Most Improved Defensive Player - LB Bruce Bivens; Top Offensive Newcomer - QB Holton Ahlers; Top Defensive Newcomer - DB Nolan Johnson ... ECU will conduct its annual Senior Pro Day on Thursday (March 29) ... A total of 20 players who wrapped up their eligibility after the 2017 will undergo testing in the Murphy Center and on Hight Field in front of an expected group of 35 scouts, coaches and miscellaneous personnel representing the National Football League (NFL), Canadian Football League (CFL) and other professional franchises ... After physical (height, weight, hand, arm) measurements are taken, the former Pirates will be tested in the vertical jump, broad jump and bench press before moving outside for 40-yard dash and short shuttle course times, along with various positional workouts.