In last season's stretch run in which the University of Charleston went 5-1 to close the year, quarterback Maurice Leak showed a penchant for making game-winning plays.
As it turns out, Leak doesn't discriminate in using his gift, even when it's against his own team.
After the offense struggled through most of the game, Leak capped a furious fourth-quarter rally with a 33-yard rushing touchdown with just 18.6 seconds left, giving the White (offense) a 41-37 win over the Maroon (defense) in the UC spring game Thursday at University of Charleston Stadium.
A modified scoring system was used in which both the offense and defense received points for various things such as touchdowns, turnovers, first downs, three-and-outs, etc. The teams played four 12-minute quarters with the clock continuously ticking except inside of two minutes at the end of each half.
Coming into the fourth quarter, the defense held a 33-17 lead and the only touchdown the White had scored was on a gadget play resulting in wideout Marquis White hurling a 22-yard touchdown pass to Shaquille Williams as time expired in the first half.
White was injured on the play and did not return.
"They came out and played assignment football," Leak said of the defense. "Everybody took care of the gaps in the running game, everybody covered their zones in the passing game. They were crisp in the first half and they were crisp in the second half too. I'm very excited about what they're going to be able to do next year."
As it turned out, coach Pat Kirkland's squad set him up perfectly for a post-game speech revolving around playing all four quarters. After three basically inept quarters by the offense, it struck for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Leak connected on a 50-yard touchdown with Darrell Byrd and freshman quarterback John Knox had a 53-yard touchdown scamper to set up Leak's winning score.
"I think we've got to make sure we understand you've got to play four quarters," Kirkland said. "Not two quarters or three quarters - it's a four-quarter football game. We play in a competitive conference where anything can happen. We're young and we're starting to figure out that we've got to compete on every snap and win every snap. I was glad to see the offense battle back in the second half that was great to see."