The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Defense holds on for 37-30 victory in Black & Gold Game

Team 3 concluded spring ball with a successful annual scrimmage.
Vanderbilt Athletics
Team Defense held on to defeat Team Offense, 37-30, in Vanderbilt Football’s annual Black and Gold Game on April 8, 2023 (Vanderbilt Athletics).

After 15 practices this spring, Vanderbilt football held their annual “Black & Gold” spring game on Saturday morning. The scrimmage pits the offense against the defense in a modified scoring system, in which the defense recorded points for holding the offense scoreless. With two full offseasons under his belt, the game provided an opportunity for Clark Lea to demonstrate the progress Team 3 has made. 

“The spring game is the culmination of winter and spring preparation.” Lea told the media after the game, “ I thought the day was spirited, and I was happy with the back and forth. I thought the guys enjoyed playing football. I think we come out of the game relatively healthy, which is good, and that’s always the goal. We will benefit moving forward from all the work we’ve invested to this point.”

The Commodores were split between their offense and defense, with offense wearing white jerseys and defense wearing black. Through a modified scoring system,  the defense could earn seven points for touchdowns, seven points for red zone stops, four points for a forced red zone field, three points for a turnover or three and out, two points for a failed two-point attempt, and one point for a failed extra point.  

The AJ Swann-led first-team offense started the game with a quick three and out, before failing to convert a fourth down conversion. Ken Seals took over in the red zone with the second team offense, who also failed to score after a Will Faris field goal sailed wide left. The redzone stop for the defense counted as seven points, giving the defense a 10-0 lead. 

On the next drive, the Commodores’ offense leaned on their new-look run game to pick up some offensive momentum. Redshirt freshman Chase Gillepsie first ripped off a twenty-plus yard run to enter, before early enrollee Sedrick Alexander capped the drive with a 15-yard rushing touchdown to cut the defense’s lead to 10-7. 

AJ Swann led the next drive, which ended in a field goal to bring the score to 14-10. Will Faris was given another field goal opportunity on the next series, which he missed. Faris went 1-3 on field goal attempts on the day, signaling that the kicking game could be an issue for the Commodores next season. Lea touched on the possibility of bringing in another kicker in his post-game comments. 

“We’re gonna add a kicker here as a freshman,” Lea said. “We’re going to probably add a transfer, maybe as a walk-on. By the time we’re lining up, we recognize the kicking game is an important part of our success and so we’ll have the answer to that.”

On the ensuing drive, sophomore Walt Taylor showed that he could be a viable quarterback option for the Commodores in the future. Taylor moved with confidence in the pocket and threw with accuracy, capping his drive with a 50-yard touchdown to Wilson Long to end the half at 17-17. 

On the second play of the first half, AJ Swann unleashed a 66-yard touchdown bomb to Quincy Skinner. Unfortunately, the play was called back for unsportsmanlike conduct on the part of Skinner. A few plays later, Swann found Richie Hoskins for a touchdown but Faris failed to convert the extra point. Lea noted that Skinner can be a key asset for the offense this season, but he can’t let his ego get in the way of the team. 

“I think Quincy, competitive maturity for him is his next step,” Lea said. “ He’s a playmaker. I know now his physical tools and his ability. He needs to expect to be in those positions, and I told him too: Just be humble enough to know that the protection, the quarterback, there are a lot of things that had to go right for that play to be made. So you carry the ball into the end zone with respect and appreciation to those elements too.”

The secondary’s improved play shined on the next drive, as De’Rickey Wright took an errant Drew Dickey pass to the house for the sole defensive touchdown of the day. Wright led the Commodores with three interceptions last season and looks to continue his ball-hawking ways as a starting safety this season. The pick-6 extended the Defense’s lead to 34-23. `

On the offense’s final drive, Ken Seals was able to cut into the lead with a passing touchdown to Gillespie. Ultimately, the defense was able to hold on to win the game 37-30. After the game, Lea expressed pride in his team for their positive development but noted that expectations will continue to get higher. 

“It’s not about showing up anymore. It’s not about having positive energy. We’ve demonstrated that. This is about how we become dangerous as a football team and a football program.”

Leave a comment
About the Contributor
Brandon Karp
Brandon Karp, Senior Staff Writer
Brandon Karp ('25) is from Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and is studying human and organizational development and political science in Peabody College. You can reach him at [email protected].
More to Discover

Comments (0)

The Vanderbilt Hustler welcomes and encourages readers to engage with content and express opinions through the comment sections on our website and social media platforms. The Hustler reserves the right to remove comments that contain vulgarity, hate speech, personal attacks or that appear to be spam, commercial promotion or impersonation. The comment sections are moderated by our Editor-in-Chief, Rachael Perrotta, and our Social Media Director, Chloe Postlewaite. You can reach them at [email protected] and [email protected].
All The Vanderbilt Hustler picks Reader picks Sort: Newest
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments