Jake Johnson threw for 120 yards and two touchdowns Saturday in leading the Gold to a 21-7 victory over the Maroon in the annual Central Michigan football spring game at Kelly/Shorts Stadium.
“I thought it was some good, and some bad,” CMU coach John Bonamego said. “Some crisp and a little bit of sloppy. I’m just glad we got through it healthy.”
Bonamego sat out several front liners, including starting quarterback Cooper Rush. That gave him an opportunity to . . .
Lazzaro, a sophomore who transferred in this winter from Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, completed five of his 15 pass attempts for 77 yards and one touchdown. Johnson was 10-of-13.
Lazzaro’s TD pass went for 55 yards to Damon Terry. It was by far the longest play of the day. Johnson tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Jamil Sabbagh and a 35-yarder to Brandon Childress.
“I thought Jake did a little bit better job of keeping his eyes downfield and delivering some timely throws,” Bonamego said. “I thought both quarterbacks, once they settled in, were much better in the second half.
“It was nice to see Tommy complete the ball there to Damon downfield. That was a really nice throw and that’s one of the things that we saw in him, he’s got a really, really strong arm.
“And he’s won at every level. He won two state championships in high school and won a conference championship at Dodge City CC where he was last year.”
Johnson, who hails from DeWitt, redshirted last season.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Johnson said. “It’s been about a year and a half since I played my last game. Being out here it feels really good.
“I thought today helped my confidence, just being in a game-like setting and throwing a couple touchdowns helped.”
Bonamego said he wasn’t ready at this point to anoint either as the clear-cut No. 2 behind Rush.
“Really healthy competition,” Lazzaro said. “We’re helping each other. We just want to see the best man get the second job. It’s really good at practice. There’s no hostility at practice.”
Jahray Hayes of the Gold team was the game’s top rusher with 31 yards on six carries. He scored on a 25-yard run. He also had three catches for 11 yards.
Mitch Stanitzek led the Gold with four tackles including a sack, while Joe Ostman made three stops with one sack for the Maroon.
As is typical in a spring game, the defenses held the upper hand, particularly early in the game. Hayes’ TD run was the only score in the first two quarters.
“I liked the play of our defense on both sides,” Bonamego said. “I thought we ran to the ball well and tackled well in space, covered well on the back end. That’s encouraging.
“When you look at this subjectively as a head coach you’re never really happy because you’re always looking at what should have been better, you’re upset with the offense maybe because they weren’t able to move the ball, but you have to understand on the flip side of that you must be doing good things on defense.”
And defense has long been something on which the Chippewas have hung their hat.
“We’ve had the top defense in the MAC the last two years,” Bonamego said, “and that’s something that we take a lot of pride in. It’s part of our tradition, it’s one of the things that always defined CMU football is great, tough, hard-nosed, hustling, opportunistic defense and I don’t see that changing this year with this group.”