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Willy still leading the way at QB

The University at Buffalo's quarterback competition this spring ended the way it started, with Drew Willy the front-runner and Naaman Roosevelt trying to gain ground.

Both had their moments during Saturday's annual spring game in which the Blue team (offense) outscored the White (defense), 51-32, before an estimated 600 at UB Stadium.

UB coach Turner Gill liked what he saw from his quarterbacks the past four weeks.

"They are both talented young men in their own way," Gill said after the 50-minute controlled scrimmage. "We definitely love what we have with both of them on our football team. Their skills are going to be advantageous to us to move the football on offense."

Willy and Roosevelt are the only quarterbacks on the roster, so they alternated offensive series. Willy showed why he remains the man to beat, completing 19 of 26 passes for 155 yards and no interceptions. He engineered the most impressive drive of the day, a seven-play, 65-yard march that ended with a five-yard toss to tight end Robert Yealu for the game's only touchdown.

"I thought we executed well," said Willy, a 6-foot-3, 209-pounder who will be a junior in the fall. "[The coaches] called some great plays, the receivers ran good routes and caught the ball and we took care of the ball, which is important."

Roosevelt, a former star at St. Joe's, was 6 of 12 for 87 yards and no picks. His mobility was evident while dodging defenders and he made some good decisions in the pocket.

"I think it went all right," said Roosevelt, who played wide receiver and returned kickoffs and punts as a freshman. "I did some good things. I had to learn a lot this spring. I've got a lot of stuff I need to work on, but I think I've done pretty good so far."

With incoming recruits Zack Ingle and Ed Young to consider, Gill said the quarterback competition is far from over.

"We're going to still discuss what we want to do," Gill said. "It won't be made any time soon.

"We're go ahead into the fall and see where we're at, particularly when we get some of the freshmen coming in and seeing how they fit. That's going to have a lot to do with some of the things that we may do, whether at quarterback or any other positions."

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Gill decided against a full-contact scrimmage. There were a few good hits, but for the most part the officials blew the play dead before someone could make a tackle.

Gill said he understands that fans want to see tackling, but he was looking to avoid injuries.

"The main purpose was we wanted to stay healthy as much as possible," he said. "I want to have our guys in August and September and October and not necessarily in April and May."

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Several players had good games. Running back Da'Von McCune was the leading rusher with 30 yards on five carries. Mario Henry had just 23 yards on 11 attempts, but would have had a lot more had the referees not blown some of his runs dead after being touched.

Wide receiver Ernest Jackson capped a strong spring with four catches for 61 yards, including a leaping 45-yard grab that set up a touchdown. Place-kicker Gerry McGroarty was 3 for 3 on field goals.

Linebacker Larry Hutchinson led the defense with 10 tackles. Defensive back Chris Storr added seven stops.

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Nearly 100 high school junior football prospects (200 counting their parents) were in attendance. Players from Michigan, Virginia, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, New York City and other parts of the country were represented.

UB annually invites potential recruits to the spring game, but Saturday's turnout was the largest ever.

"It was great to see that we had quite a few people seeing what we have to offer," Gill said.

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The spring game featured a scoring system that awarded points for first downs, 10- and 20-yard plays, turnovers, sacks and drive stops, among others. . . . UB will hold its 14th and final spring practice on Monday so the coaches can review the game tape and go over final details with the players. . . . Tight end Jesse Rack (shoulder), wide receiver Terrance Breaux (knee) and linebacker Tom Drewes (foot) did not play due to injuries. Offensive tackle Jon Geddes (shoulder), running back Brandon Thermilus (knee) were held out the entire spring because of offseason surgeries.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

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