CHARLESTON, S.C. – Charleston Southern played under the new lights at Buccaneer Field for the first time on Thursday night in the Bucs' annual Blue-White Spring Football Game.
CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell led a strong crowd in a pregame countdown before the lights came on for the 7 p.m. kickoff. Once the football began, the White – the offense - produced three touchdowns to best the Blue, 21-0.
Rising sophomore quarterback Kyle Copeland led the offensive effort with 135 yards passing and a touchdown, while junior Austin Brown hit Kevin Glears for a 70-yard score. The defense also played well for much of the night, producing five sacks and nine tackles for loss.
Aside from the football, the atmosphere of the first night game at Buccaneer Field stood out for Chadwell and all on hand.
"I think it's huge," Chadwell said. "We're trying to become a program that's consistently good and getting lights is going to give us a better chance to recruit the type of athletes we want and get our community and students more involved to create the kind of environment we want to have on gameday."
"Today was the start of that," Chadwell continued. "We had a good crowd. We did some things to get the students out and they created a good atmosphere for it. It's nice to have our kids feel like they're important and getting to play on a Thursday night is a cool thing for them. We're letting them know we're trying to make this program have a big-time feel."
Copeland accounted for the Bucs' first touchdown when he hooked up with Donte Sumpter over the middle on a 37-yard strike. He exhibited his elusive ability in the pocket earlier in that drive when he evaded pressure and aired out a pass to Glears down the right sideline.
The defense answered back soon after as Tanner Rogers registered a sack to highlight an effort that saw him produce 2.5 tackles for loss. Rasean Ray and Chris Nwanegwo had sacks as well, while Jason Macon and Kameron Burton-Reeder notched half a sack.
Rising senior wide receiver Kevin Glears provided one of the highlights of the night when he ran past the secondary to reel in a 70-yard touchdown over the middle from Brown.
Copeland scored on a four-yard run for the Bucs' other touchdown of the night. On the ground, rising sophomore Michael Holloway capped off an outstanding spring with 53 yards on 11 carries, with a long of 19. Chris Jenkins added 41 yards on 14 attempts.
"It's still an open competition," said Chadwell of CSU's starting quarterback battle entering the summer and fall camp. "Austin, from the time that he's gotten here until now, has made huge strides. His natural ability and leadership are the reasons we wanted him here and he has really shown that while also picking up on what we do offensively. Kyle has done a good job as well. Unfortunately, Danny (Croghan) was hurt but we're happy with where we are there and will see how it picks up in the summer."
CSU concludes spring practice with a final session on Friday. Chadwell and his coaching staff have been pleased with the progress they've been able to make throughout their second spring session.
"I think the expectations were different last year because we were trying to get to know them and they're trying to get to know you," Chadwell said. "Now, they know what to expect. As far as the things we were able to implement, we were able to do so much more this spring than last with schemes that will be useful for us in the fall. Also, we were able to try some guys at new positions so I was pleased with the overall process of the things we did. Now, we know where the parts go."
Following the game, the Bucs also announced their annual spring award winners. Linebacker Tre Deloach received the Edward A. Gadson Memorial Scholarship for a second straight season. The award was presented to Deloach by Gadson's father, and is given every year in memory of the Bucs' receiver that passed away in the summer of 2005, prior to CSU's Big South Championship season. A complete list of the award winners is below.