Maybe nobody’s performance summed up J-Day better than Bynum’s, who helped the White squad beat the Red team 17-13: Some mistakes, some good plays, lots of enthusiasm and effort.
“That’s one of the things we’ve worked on — you have to have a short memory. If you have adversity, you’ve got to overcome it,” said the junior cornerback, who smiled at how he nearly got a touchdown on his second interception, but stepped out of bounds at the 1-yard line.
In Bill Clark’s first J-Day Game as the Gamecocks’ head coach, the spring finale at Burgess-Show Field drew a school-record crowd of 4,000.
“I saw good individual effort and when we are talking different sides of the ball, I was definitely pleased with the effort,” said Clark, who also complimented the crowd for getting into the action as it did.
Clark and his staff divided the teams so that the first-team offense played for the White squad, while the Red got the first-team defense. They played two 12-minute quarters with the clock stopping whenever it would in a normal game. In the second half, they played two 15-minute quarters with clock that didn’t stop. At halftime, they swapped starting quarterbacks.
Both teams’ offenses played the high-tempo offense Clark and offensive coordinator John Grass have installed this spring.
Again, there were some mistakes, some good plays, lots of enthusiasm. The two teams combined for seven turnovers. But the White team managed to pick up 167 yards on the ground, while the Red passed for 292, including an 85-yard bomb from Eli Jenkins to Wesley Warren for the game’s first touchdown.
“We preach tempo,” Clark said, “and I know people may get tired of hearing that, but it goes over to how your defense handles that. I watch when a guy gets tired. Did he shut it down? You can see that. We’ve played against it.
“I didn’t see that tonight. ... The defense handled the tempo because we had a fast tempo the whole game offensively. There were only a few times we slowed it down.”
The Red team took a 10-0 lead in the opening quarter. A little more than two minutes into the game, Warren slipped past Bynum, who stumbled. Warren latched onto Jenkins’ long pass in stride and sprinted the rest of the way for the touchdown. He finished with three catches for 119 yards.
“When I saw he was one-on-one, I had to get him the ball,” Jenkins said.
Griffin Thomas added a 28-yard field goal.
In the second quarter, Bynum’s interception and 29-yard return gave the White team the ball 47 yards from the end zone. The White squad, with Kyle West at quarterback, drove for a touchdown, with Anniston High graduate Troymaine Pope rushing 4 yards for the score. Pope finished with a game-high 55 yards.
After another Thomas field goal for the Red squad, the White team managed another touchdown before halftime. Bynum picked off another pass, running it back 27 yards to the 1, where a crowd of Red and White players slowed him down and forced him out of bounds.
“I closed my eyes and dove into the end zone,” Bynum said. “I thought I got in, but one of my teammates said I stepped out at the 1.
DaMarcus James scored on a 1-yard run on the next play.
Another Red turnover set up the game’s final points. The White team lost a fumble, which the Red’s Kyle Pope recovered. That set up a field goal from 38 yards away by Thomas, who kicked for both squads.
West completed 8 of 19 passes for 57 yards and an interception for the White squad. When he moved to the Red in the second half, he completed 3 of 8 for 45 yards and an interception.
Jenkins completed a combined 10 of 19 passes for 194 yards and two interceptions.
Defensively, Brenton Tolson had 12 tackles for the Red team, while Clarence Jackson added 10. For the White squad, Jamal Johnson and Pope each had six stops.
Friday’s game marked the 15th and final practice of JSU’s spring. Clark, who was introduced as JSU’s coach Dec. 18, 2012, said there’s much more he wants to accomplish with his team.
“But I feel pretty good,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do, but I think we did a pretty good job, given everything we had to get done. You’ve got to come away pleased.”
Sports Editor Mark Edwards: 256-235-3570. On Twitter @MarkSportsStar.