2024 WVU Gold-Blue spring game recap

By John Atonik, wvusports.com

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – It was a festive afternoon of football and fellowship at Milan Puskar Stadium on a warm and mostly sunny Saturday afternoon.

Because this year’s Gold-Blue Spring Game was televised on ESPN+ and many eyes in State College, Pennsylvania, were watching, the noon affair more closely resembled a spring practice with competitions, specialty drills and fan interactions sprinkled into a controlled scrimmage setting that included a running game clock in the second half.

“Really good day today,” West Virginia coach Neal Brown said. “I appreciate the fans for making it a great atmosphere. We had a ton of recruits here – almost all the ’24 players that haven’t enrolled yet.”

Prior to the second quarter, new gold, blue and white uniforms were unveiled, blending the school’s traditional 1980s look with today’s modern innovations.

At halftime, the Tom Nickolich Award, presented to the program’s top walk-on player, was given to safety Avery Wilcox, while the Iron Mountaineers recognizing the top weight room performers were awarded to Wyatt MilumSean MartinPreston FoxGarrett Greene and Austin Brinkman.

The scrimmage concluded with punting and field goal challenges. Quarterbacks were in no-tackle white jerseys and Brown spent the afternoon on the field standing behind the offensive units.

The two touchdowns today were scored by Hudson Clement, a 7-yard pass from Nicco Marchiol, and by Preston Fox, an 11-yarder from Jackson Crist.

Defensively, linebacker Josiah Trotter picked off a Garrett Greene pass, Duquesne transfer Ayden Garnes intercepted a pass thrown by Marchiol in the end zone and Aden Tagaloa-Nelson concluded the scrimmage by picking Scott Kean’s Hail Mary throw.

Greene completed 8 of his 13 attempts for 79 yards while Marchiol was 10-of-19 for 82 yards. Traylon Ray was the top receiver with four catches for 55 yards while freshman Clay Ash was the top ball carrier, gaining 26 yards on six attempts.

“On offense and defense, I wanted guys who are stepping into bigger roles that I wanted our fans to see,” Brown explained. “This spring game was the first time they were put out there.”

Former Mountaineer football greats Pat McAfee and Pat White returned to campus to serve as the honorary coaches for the Gold and Blue squads. McAfee has become one of the most successful media personalities in television today while White is an offensive assistant for the Los Angeles Chargers.

Both played during one of the best eras in West Virginia football history when they led the Mountaineers to a 42-9 record from 2005 to 2008, including Sugar, Gator, Fiesta and Meineke bowl victories.

“Very thankful for getting Pat White and Pat McAfee back and I have to give credit to (assistant coach) Blaine (Stewart) for that,” Brown said.
 
The scoring for the scrimmage was comprised of various point values that also included fan participation.
 
Today wrapped up this year’s spring work which emphasized tackling, special teams play and lots of 11-on-11 action. Individual drill work will resume when offseason activities commence in the summertime.

In the morning, Morgantown native Huey Mack kicked things off with a free concert behind the east side of the stadium in Almost Heaven Village prior to gates opening at 11 a.m.

A crowd of 18,540 was announced for today’s game, with a portion of the proceeds benefitting WVU Medicine Childrens. Hall of Fame coach Don Nehlen, who began the practice of donating the spring game proceeds to the WVU Children’s Hospital, was in attendance and was recognized on the field beforehand. More than $800,000 has been donated to WVU Medicine through the years.

“Overall, I’m pleased with the spring and now we are going into the next phase with the transfer portal,” Brown said. “The most important thing is to continue holding on to your roster and we may look at adding some pieces in May.”

Go to WVUGAME.com to purchase tickets for the 2024 season, which includes a season-opening home game against Penn State. It will be the Nittany Lions’ first appearance in Morgantown since 1992.

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