After a slow start, the Charleston Southern offense put together nice scoring drives and held off a challenge by the defense, winning, 30-21, in the annual spring football game on Saturday afternoon.
Senior quarterback A.J. Toscano was intercepted twice but threw for 192 yards in one half and the offense totaled 449 yards, with 329 coming via the passing game.
Senior Gerald Stevenson, one of the more productive players in school history, had 39 yards rushing on seven carries, scoring twice, and caught three passes for 31 yards. Stevenson also added a 22-yard punt return.
CSU head coach Jay Mills never tries to read too much into spring games, but he saw some positives from the team's performance.
"I think we saw some good plays on both sides of the ball and I feel like we're a good football team," said Mills. "We're not a great team but we are good right now. The summer workouts and fall camp will be very important for us to see if we can take some positive steps from what we did in the spring. Overall, it was fairly typical of a spring game."
Toscano is the incumbent at quarterback and completed 9 of 18 passes on the day. The biggest pass play was a 73-yard connection to Kwame Krakue to set up one score. Toscano also directed the offense on a balanced 15-play, 85-yard scoring drive before the end of the half.
Krakue had four catches for 119 yards. Freshman Estevan Cintron was also impressive in his debut, catching four passes for 67 yards and a touchdown and rushing for 27 yards.
Backup quarterback Andrew Trudnowski completed 8 of 13 passes for 85 yards, and newcomer Derick Hatcher completed 3 of 5 attempts for 52 yards, including a 22-yard scoring pass to Cintron late. Hatcher also threw an interception.
Returning all-conference place-kicker John Paglia was good on 2 of 3 kicks, making field goals from 32 and 39 yards and missing from 26.
Defensive backs Anthony Velez, James Antaplyan, Kenny Johnson and Charles James had seven tackles each, as did linebacker Logan Cobell. Linebackers Bradley Sweatt and David Jackson recorded interceptions, as did safety Austin Wild. Sweatt returned his pick 34 yards for a touchdown on the third play of the scrimmage.
The game was played before the largest crowd to ever see a spring game at CSU, with several hundred in attendance.
"I think the interest level in our program continues to grow, and today was a great crowd for a spring game," said Mills. "No team in the Big South Conference has won more games than we have and I think being able to attract junior prospects and many of the players we signed in February to this game is a sign of the excitement level for what we are doing here at CSU."
CSU spring awards
Most improved players: Andrew Trudnowski (quarterbacks), Josh Atkinson (tight ends), Nick Kemper (offensive line), Ryan Crowley (specialist), Demarcus Moon (running backs), Deon Lee (receivers), Delvon King (defensive line), L.B. Cravey (linebackers), Charles James (defensive backs). Edward Gadson Memorial Scholarship recepient: L.B. Cravey.