By I.C. Murrell

By I.C. Murrell

COMMERCIAL SPORTS EDITOR

Joel Porchia had a breakout afternoon, although it was just a spring game. Dezmond Beverly and Isiah Ferguson helped make SWAC Freshman of the Year Ben Anderson look like a Player of the Year candidate in training. New and improved Dennis Jenkins was in effect.

And the “very good” spring camp coach Monte Coleman said the Arkansas-Pine Bluff football team had ended with a very good showing by the Gold team in Saturday’s Black and Gold game.

Anderson completed 16 of 22 passes for 303 yards with an interception, helping the predominantly-first string Gold team to a 24-7 victory. Anderson never had a 300-yard game during his redshirt freshman season.

“Other than one turnover, I felt I did all right,” he said. “There were a couple of checks here and there i thought I should have made, but that one turnover was the biggest thing that got me.”

Bobby Boyd picked off Anderson in the end zone, ending the Gold’s three-drive scoring streak to start the game.

Porchia, a sophomore-to-be from Los Angeles who saw limited playing time in 2011, had 67 yards on five receptions, including a 48-yard catch that set up fullback Jeremy Edmonds’ 2-yard scoring carry two plays later late in the first quarter. Porchia said he was “kind of” surprised with his performance.

“It’s good to work around these receivers and learn from them, build off them and increase my talent, too,” he said.

Anderson played the entire game and completed to seven different receivers in the first half. He had two passes go for 40 or more yards, including a 44-yarder to newcomer Isiah Ferguson for a touchdown. Beverly added 28 yards on three catches.

The Gold led 22-0 through the first quarter, scoring first on Jenkins’ 70-yard dash three plays into the game. Jenkins, who added some pounds to his 5-foot-9, 204-pound frame during the offseason, finished with 100 yards on six carries.

Following Edmonds’ TD run that made it 20-0, Wesley Hawthorne — who played receiver for the Black and placeholder for both sides — ran out of extra-point formation into the end zone for the extra two.

“I wasn’t pleased with the Black team early on in the first quarter,” Coleman said. “It seemed like they were going through the motions. … They showed to me as if they were intimidated by the Gold team early on. I didn’t go for that very much. I fussed them out and they came back and put on a good showing the second half.”

The Gold dominated in total yards, 303 to 193, outgaining the Black 294-81 at halftime and finishing with nine first downs to the Black’s four. There were four 12-minute periods with a running clock in the final stanza except for timeouts.

Coleman went with a first string vs. second string format in hopes of increasing the intensity of competition. He said the first string vs. first string format was a stalemate in past spring games.

William Dunn started for the Black team and was 6 of 10 for 30 yards, but held to minus-18 yards on three rushes. C.J. Branch, the second-string quarterback, played tight end for the Gold but did not have any catches.

The defense also set the tone for the Gold early, forcing the Black to punt on its first four drives. Then with 5:51 left before halftime, quarterback T.Q. Mims ran 72 yards to end the Gold shutout.

“T.Q. beat me to the long touchdown run,” Anderson said. “I was trying to get one before he did, but I’m happy for everybody.”

Mims was recruited as a quarterback, but the rising junior has spent the past two years as a free safety. He carried six times for 92 yards and was 5 of 11 passing for 75 yards.

“I’m just glad I progressed the way I did today and executed my assignments,” Mims said. “I have a couple of things to work on, but I hope to get my team better and me better, too.”

Quarterbacks were not immune to taking hits in this spring game, giving Coleman a chance to see how they would respond under pressure and making the game more live. He stressed the importance of the QBs’ being able to get rid of the ball against pressure all through camp.

The game saw four sacks, two of which Dunn took on a Black drive to give up a safety with 2:12 left in the first half. Dunn opened the drive with a 75-yard TD pass to Ladarius Eckwood that was called back for illegal participation. Troy Goss then sacked Dunn 15 yards and Joe Dalton finished off the drive with the 5-yard loss for two points.

Dalton didn’t mind targeting the QBs one bit.

“I was gladly excited,” he said. “We had been waiting for that all spring, all year, really.”

Senior offensive tackle Terron Armstead did not play with a back injury and free safety Adam Trotter sprained his ankle Saturday, spoiling Coleman’s goal of getting through camp injury-free. UAPB will begin the season Sept. 1 in Little Rock against Langston (Okla.).