Defense Tops Offense In Bruce Craddock Spring Game

MACOMB, IL – The Western Illinois football team closed out the spring campaign on Friday night with the annual Bruce Craddock Spring Game. In an evening that featured the offense taking on the defense, it was the defense that prevailed, scoring a 27-21 victory. The game capped a 15-practice, month-long session for the Leathernecks, who now head into the offseason.

“We came together as a program, we became closer off the field throughout the spring and we had a strong semester academically,” WIU coach Myers Hendrickson said. “The product, the football piece, that was the tip of the iceberg. I felt like we had a productive spring, we got bigger, stronger over the winter and it showed.

“Tonight, we wanted to run the ball on offense and take the ball away on defense and we did both things. On top of that, we had a defensive score, which is a huge coaching moment for our defense because we stress we want to take the ball away and it’s also important because it shows the offense we can’t do that, it was the deciding score in the game.”

The defense was spotted a 20-0 lead and extended it to 27-0 when Brian Bruce recovered a fumble and scooted into the endzone on the first drive of the game.

Bruce, along with fellow interior linemen Tre Henry, made plays all evening up front for the Leathernecks, who had strong showings from all three levels.

“I love the maturation and development of both Tre and Brian,” Hendrickson said. “The D-Line played strong, I think the front seven played tremendous this spring and I thought it was very fitting to see Brian make that play.”

Also re-introducing himself to Leatherneck fans was linebacker Juan DelaCruz. DelaCruz led the team in tackles last season and looked in midseason form Friday night.

“He’s our returning leading tackler and he’s made the commitment to our program, he’s 100 percent bought in on Leatherneck football,” Hendrickson said. “When one of your best players does that, it’s a huge step for us.”

On the offensive side, Jaylin Jackson made a loud statement that he could be the next big Leatherneck playmaker at wide receiver. Jackson had a pair of touchdown receptions, including a 50-yard pass at the end of the first half that made the score, 27-21.

“Jaylin Jackson had a great night,” Hendrickson said. “He’s an incredibly intelligent football player, he’s a smart person we can move all over the field. He can run a variety of routes and play a variety of positions. He’s very versatile.”

Accounting for Western Illinois’ other touchdown was running back Seth Glatz. After having a standout performance in the season finale last fall at Illinois State, Glatz looked poised to become a regular in the backfield this fall with punishing runs, including a four-yard score.

“I left the locker room at Illinois State last season incredibly excited about the future backfield, especially with the way Seth ran the football,” Hendrickson said. “Seth rushed for 80 yards against one of the best defenses in FCS and he picked up where he left off. He had a great spring for us and we saw a lot of great runs tonight.”

The evening began with the traditional Leatherneck Handshake between football alumni and the current roster, something Hendrickson enjoyed, especially with all the returning Western Illinois football players and coaches.

“We wanted a great family atmosphere and we had incredible alumni support, it was phenomenal,” the coach said. “Randy Ball, the all-time winningest coach came back, I was excited when I got that call. He addressed the alumni at today’s golf outing this morning, he addressed our team in our team meeting tonight and he’ll address everyone at our golf outing tomorrow.

“It’s been a huge alumni weekend, our honorary captains, Deion Melvin, Nate Blanks, Matt Barr, Frank Winters, we had multiple Super Bowl champs, it is a special time for our program thanks to our alumni who came back.”


Copy Provided By Western Athletic Communications

Free News Delivery by Email

Would you like to have the day's news stories delivered right to your inbox every evening? Enter your email below to start!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *