CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- At the end of the University of Charleston's Maroon-Gold spring game Thursday night at UC Stadium, Golden Eagles coach Pat Kirkland gathered his team.
"Defense," Kirkland said, "give the offense a round of applause."
It was well-deserved. Even with senior quarterback Maurice Leak sidelined with injury, UC's offense rolled to a 45-14 victory under a scoring system that rewarded first downs, defensive stops, etc.
In addition, Charleston's offense was without offensive linemen Justin Johnson and Gabe Poe and tight end Justin Lawrence.
"Today we showed what we can do," said quarterback John Knox, who ran the first-team offense. "I feel I got better this spring, but I think the team got better, too. We still have things to do, but we're getting there."
Knox actually waited until there was but one tick left on the game clock before posting his touchdown pass, which went to 6-foot-5 Dan Cherry in the back of the end zone.
"Our defense finished second in the country last year," Knox said. "We knew they would be ready. On the first day of spring practice, they looked like they hadn't missed a practice since the last game."
UC's defense was without nose guard Rock Stone, but standout linebacker Matt Kelly and most of his peers were on the UC Stadium field on Thursday evening.
"That was the No. 2 total defense last season [allowing an average of 264.6 yards per game] and almost all are back," Kirkland said. "I thought the offense did a tremendous job against that defense. I'm encouraged."
Kirkland even had the game clock roll until the end of the halves, completing the contest in an hour and 20 minutes. Much of that was to protect against more injuries.