PEMBROKE — Nathan London didn’t waste any time getting The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s defensive line going during the team’s spring game on Thursday night.
The senior tagged quarterback Dominick Samson in the backfield on the first play of the game for the first of 18 combined sacks between the Black and Gold teams in the intrasquad scrimmage.
“It’s always good to see death row as a whole make plays. We work so hard every week, just grinding and pushing each other, working on everyone’s flaws,” London said. “Trying to get better at whatever it is you know you’re lacking in.”
London helped the Black squad tally 10 total sacks, but the Gold team used an early touchdown along with a 49-yard field goal by Alex Alvarado in the fourth quarter to earn a 10-0 victory.
A returning starter for the Braves, Samson was one of three quarterback to take the field.
Samson said he was ready to be back in action after missing the team’s final game last season.
“It’s good to be back out there,” Samson said. “My last season ended with an injury, and that was a rough way to end it. I’m just glad to be back out here with the boys again.”
The Cary native connected with Corey West for a touchdown pass to give the Gold squad an early lead in the first quarter, but both teams struggled to build momentum offensively for the rest of the game.
That struggle partly came from the defensive line’s strong outing against an offensive line unit that took the field for both teams.
“Since day one, I would say the offensive line has tremendously gotten better,” London said. “We’re with them every day. A lot of people really don’t give the offensive line the love they deserve. Those guys work very hard.”
Several running backs saw playing time on both sides. Redshirt junior and Lumberton native Josh Sheridan started for the Black team, while classmate Quadrin Williams started for the Gold team.
“I think Quad Williams is an energy spark plug,” head coach Shane Richardson said. “I told the guys that Gold team, because of his leadership, their morale and their intensity and their energy is just on a different level. It was different than the Black squad’s tonight, and I think that was a big reason why the Gold squad really outperformed the Black squad.”
Redshirt freshman Travis Prince also stood out to Richardson and could see playing time in the fall in a running back unit that lost last season’s leading rusher in Miles Grant.
“I think those three guys will be able to do a really good job in the backfield for us,” Richardson said.
Joshua Dale started at quarterback for the Black squad. Auston Foley saw playing time for the Gold team as well.
“Josh did a great job with the Black squad over there. He was their only quarterback, so he was going pretty much all night,” Samson said. “He’s a problem when he gets out of the pocket. Foley did a really good job too. He put some throws on the money.”
The scrimmage’s format was similar to that of an actual game. In previous years, the Braves played the spring game with a unique scoring system that awarded points for accomplishments like sacks, interceptions and big offensive plays.
Another new aspect of the game was a draft that took place on Wednesday.
“We went through a draft yesterday and guys got to choose their own teams. We tried to keep it as close to a real game as we could,” Richardson said. “The two modifications were the quarterbacks had a red jersey on and we tried to keep the game clock moving more than what we would, but otherwise everything was very live and there was a lot of good football taking place here.”
The Braves open the 2018 season on Sept. 1 at Winston-Salem State.
Reach Brandon Tester at 910-816-1989 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @BrandonTester.