University of Central Arkansas’ running backs, who spent most of the spring offstage, ran into the spotlight Friday night during the Bears Purple-White game at First Security Field at Estes Stadium.
The Bears rushed for 316 yards on 47 carries, highlighted by an 87-yard touchdown scamper by Wynrick Smothers, who solidified himself as the No. 1 quarterback. He rushed for 107 yards on five carries. Freshman Wesleigh Foster, who set up a touchdown with a 50-yard run, ran for 121 yards on eight carries. Terence Bobo had 74 yards on 11 carries and Anthony Blackmon was 11 for 41.
"This was the best our backs have run all spring," said UCA coach Clint Conque. "They got their pads down, ran vertically and made some great reads. Wes Foster is obviously a special talent but his head is still spinning from trying to get it all sorted out as a student-athlete. With him and a healthy Jackie Hinton and a healthy Willie Matthews and with solid players like Bobo and Blackmon, the position could be a real strength for us."
In a nip-and-tuck struggle between the offense and the defense under a modified scoring system that gave points for a variety of plays on both sides on the ball, the offense, with a late flurry, prevailed, 87-70.
Besides Smothers’ run, touchdowns were scored by Jesse Grandy (31-yard pass from Smothers); Al Lasker (3-yard pass from Jacoby Walker); Dezmin Lewis (44-yard pass from Trey Taylor, Damien Watts (31-yard pass from Taylor while making the catch despite at interference call); and Lewis (45-yard pass from Taylor).
Smothers completed 7 of 12 passes for 96 yards. Taylor, a redshirt freshman, was 9 of 15 for 187 yards. Sophomore Ryan Howard was 8 of 12 for 89 yards with one interception (Jestin Love). Walker was 1 of 7 for 3 yards.
"Wynrick will start the fall as No. 1, no question," Conque said. "The other three have done some good things but are not as consistent as Wynrick."
"I knew as a player and as a quarterback, I had to better myself this spring," Smothers said. "I think I came out of the spring more confident than I’ve ever been.
"We have so many playmakers, it’s a matter of getting the ball in their hands. Anybody can make a play at any place, anytime. That gives you confidence."
Eleven different receivers caught passes led by four each from Grandy and Clay Murphy.
Redshirt freshman D.J. Holland and sophomore T.J. Randall were the leading tacklers with seven each. Randall also ha two sacks and a tackle for loss. Eddie Carmara hit all five of his extra-point attempts and Kevin Buford punted for a 36.9 average on 12 punts.
Conque said the offensive line continues to be a work in progress while the secondary is giving up big plays when the offense is able to be pressure.
"It’s been a consistent theme all spring (getting beat over the top) and it’s a concern because this is our most experienced area on defense," he said. "I just don’t think we’re playing with our eyes back there like we should."
The Bears sustained no major injuries — in the spring or during the entire spring practice.
"Getting out without a major injury was the real winner tonight," Conque said.