TROY, Ala. (WSFA) - Team Cardinal was able to hold off Team White in Troy’s annual T-Day, but head coach Coach Chip Lindsey was very pleased with the effort from all his guys on Saturday.
“It was great being back on the field in a game situation, and I know our players were excited about it,” Lindsey said. “It was good to see our guys fly around and really compete. We’ve got good competition as whole which is what is different about this team. We have really good competition all the way around which makes everyone better.”
Gunnar Watson, Jacob Free and Missouri transfer Taylor Powell all took snaps at quarterback, and all three led drives that ended in touchdowns.
“The last three or four practices, there hasn’t been much separation between any of the quarterbacks,” Lindsey said. “They all have ability and all three have played in college which we feel good about. The guy that takes care of the ball the best and affects the team the best will win the job. There’s nothing better than competition.”
Watson, who was the starter for most of the 2020 season, got the nod in the first series, connecting with Tez Johnson om a 38-yard strike. Johnson was able to corral it with one hand in the end zone.
Free stepped in on the second possession and was able to find Luke Whittlemore on the post route to give Team Cardinal a 14-0 lead.
A Richard Jibunor tackle-for-loss partnered with an interception from Terrence Dunlap helped Team Cardinal hold on to that lead at halftime.
Powell helped give Team White some life in the second half, hitting Deshon Stoudamire on back-to-back passes for the team’s first touchdown of the afternoon.
“All three quarterbacks did some good things out there today,” said Watson. “I thought I did pretty well out there. I had a few things I’d like to take back but overall, we played fairly well. We didn’t score a lot of points, but our defense is playing really well right now. Our front seven is going to be hard to handle.
“Each of the quarterbacks threw a touchdown, which was great, and I was really pleased with how well all three moved around and completed the ball,” added Lindsey. “We didn’t put the ball in jeopardy which was important.”
The running game was also on display for both teams. Kimani Vidal pounded out 42 rushing yards on nine carries in the first half, while also recording three receptions for 16-yards. Meanwhile veteran running back BJ Smith was back to his old self, according to Lindsey. The Stanhope Elmore graduate scored the final touchdown of the afternoon for Team Cardinal on an eight-yard carry.
“B.J. looked like the old B.J. Smith out there,” Lindsey said. “He’s been here a long time and worked hard to get back healthy. And then Kimani [Vidal] was his usual self. He’s going to be a special player here for us. I was also really impressed with Jamontez Woods and his ability to fight for three or four yards when there wasn’t much space. I was really pleased with the running backs.”
Team Cardinal won T-Day 21-7, and as impressive as the offense was, a lot of the success was thanks to the defense. The squad tallied four sacks, two TFLs, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and an interception. Luis Medina led the way with a game-high two sacks.
“We didn’t come out on top, but I thought the defense did a lot of good things, and there’s still room to get better at some things,” said Medina, who was a member of Team White. “I was just talking to coach [Brandon] Hall about how much more comfortable I am this spring than I was in the fall. When I first got here, I was a little shaky but now I fell 100 percent confident. We have a lot on the defense, and everybody is trying to fight for a starting spot which makes us better.”
“The key is to continue to push,” added Lindsey. “We have to have a really good summer and get stronger and finish strong in the classroom.”
Troy opens the 2021 season on Sept. 4 when it plays host to Southern University in the first of six home games in Veterans Memorial Stadium.