Boone, Crowder star in Duke spring game

Apr. 14, 2013 @ 02:13 AM

Duke spent the spring putting in an offense that would let new starting quarterback Anthony Boone run with the ball.He sure looked comfortable throwing it, too.

Boone threw two touchdowns to Jamison Crowder to lead the Blue past the White 27-12 on Saturday in Duke's spring game.

Boone wrapped up his first set of spring practices as the Blue Devils' starter with an 18-of-30 performance for 273 yards while hitting Crowder for touchdowns covering 22 and 4 yards.

Boone had been backing up Sean Renfree, a three-year starter who graduated as the most accurate passer in school history and led the Blue Devils to their first bowl since 1994.

"This team has a lot of playmakers on offense," coach David Cutcliffe said. "We lost playmakers ... but I think we've got a large number of people that can make plays for us on offense."

Duke spent much of the spring installing elements of the zone-read offense to take advantage of Boone's speed and mobility — though that part of his game seemed negated by the green no-contact jersey he wore.

"Down at the goal line, I probably would have scored," Boone said with a smile. "We don't really have numbers at quarterback, and we want to keep guys healthy going into the summer."

Boone sure looked fine playing pitch and catch, even for a team that will be without the most productive receiver in school history, Conner Vernon, who graduated.

"You would think it leaves a huge gap, but you put guys on scholarship every year," Boone said. "We expect them to step up and make plays. That's exactly what our guys are doing."

He completed five passes to Isaac Blakeney, and four each to Crowder and Max McCaffrey for a Blue team that consisted of the starting offense and No. 2 defense.

His two interceptions — both to Ohio State transfer Jeremy Cash — were largely a product of the defense being so familiar with the plays.

Josh Snead rushed 3 yards for a touchdown and Ross Martin kicked field goals of 25 and 30 yards for the Blue.

Parker Boehme threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Jack Wise for a White team made up of the starting defense and backup offense, and Jack Willoughby kicked 31- and 25-yard field goals.

This wasn't a true first-string offense versus first-string defense scrimmage because so many key players were out.

Nine defensive players didn't play. Among the noticeable players who were out were cornerback Ross Cockrell, receiver Brandon Braxton, defensive end Kenny Aninuke and jack-of-all-trades Brandon Connette.

Thomas Sirk, expected to be the top backup to Boone, ruptured his Achilles tendon earlier in the week, and that injury made it necessary to elevate Boehme to the second string. Boehme finished 11 of 13 for 128 yards.

But the top offense had Boone and Crowder — and that made most of the difference.

Boone found Crowder for 37 yards down the right sideline two plays before the two hooked up again over the middle for a 22-yard score to put Blue up 7-0 with 5:05 left in the first quarter.

Their shorter scoring pass came roughly 3 minutes into the second quarter.