Even if there wasn't a scoring system in place to reward defensive plays, it was pretty clear — the defense dominated.
The Blue team, made up of entirely defensive players, defeated the offensive players of the White team, 14-12, on Saturday at Paulson Stadium in Georgia Southern's spring scrimmage.
"Just to have the opportunity to be out here in a game-type situation, you can really assess the spirit of competition that they come to the stadium with," GSU head coach Jeff Monken said. "Do they have a game-type mentality? Some of our guys did. Some of our guys didn't. It's important that they have that mentality when they come to the stadium."
As a reward for the win, GSU's defensive players were the first on the team to receive the 2012 Southern Conference rings, which were distributed prior to the game to the team's graduated seniors.
"There was the one big reward," defensive coordinator Jack Curtis said. "The defense got their rings first. Any time you get a conference championship ring, it's exciting. You never get sick of being a champion."
The defense got points for four turnovers on downs (two points each), three three-and-outs (one point each), and a forced fumble and recovery (three points).
The fumble occurred when safety Deion Stanley knocked down a pitch by quarterback Kevin Ellison.
The defense's biggest stand came at the 1-yard line, when Ellison was stuffed on fourth down after three-straight runs from inside the 5.
"I was really impressed with the goal-line stand we had," Curtis said. "The kids really wanted to work hard and shut them down, especially on fourth down. It was on the one-foot line, and we kept them out of the end zone. I was really happy to see that."
The offense finally found the end zone during the third and final quarter when Ellison (8 carries, 76 yards) scampered for 22 yards up the middle (one point for a run of 12-plus yards), which set up a five-yard touchdown run by fullback William Banks (10-44).
Banks also scored on a two-point conversion to tie the score at 12-12.
The touchdown was set up by a muffed punt, which gave the offense the ball at the 32-yard line, though Curtis made no excuses.
"At minimum, we should have held them to a field-goal attempt," he said. "That's our job."
The GSU offense also recorded points for a 33-yard run by Ellison (one point) and a pair of drives that saw three-consecutive first downs (one point each).
The game's final drive resulted in a three-and-out and a win for the Blue te.
Quarterback Vegas Harley (6-25) split time with Ellison and did most of the passing, completing 6 of 11 for 14 yards.
He threw a first-quarter interception to defensive back Deshawntee Gallon, but the points were negated when Gallon fumbled while running back the interception.
It was recovered by the White team's James Dean.
Linebacker Edwin Jackson led the Blue team with 10 tackles, and Kyle Oehlbeck followed with eight, including the biggest hit of the day, which came during a scout-team punt return.
The White team finished with 26 passing yards, and nine players combined for 48 carries and 232 yards on the day.
The Eagles will wrap up spring camp with their final two practices next week.
"I told out team that I'm really glad that we do have a couple more practices," Monken said. "There's a lot of things we have to correct, and I'd hate to have seen those mistakes today, then to have had to wait until August to correct them."
NOTES: The estimated announced attendance was 3,700. ... A film crew was on hand to shoot crowd scenes for a feature film about legendary coach Erk Russell. GSU's six national championship flags were reportedly not flown at the spring game because the scenes take place in 1984, a year before the first title. ... The only starting offensive skill player from the 2012 Eagles to play in the spring game was senior slotback Johnathan Bryant. Roughly 25 Eagles were injured and did not participate in the game.
Matt Yogus may be reached at (912) 489-9408.