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EIU's Lora Lifts Whites to Spring Game Win
CHARLESTON – Putting a blue shirt over his white jersey as a fill-in for some plays, Erik Lora did not treat everyone equal.
While contributing one 24-yard catch for the Blue-jersey contingent, Lora when wearing his White No. 22 became the star of Eastern Illinois’ intrasquad football game.
The freshman took Brandon Large passes, juked Blue defenders and turned those completions into 42- and 53-yard second-half touchdowns leading the Whites to Saturday’s 24-17 win in the annual spring game at O’Brien Field.
“I was originally drafted by the White team so the Blues can’t say much,” Lora said. “But we’re all on the same team. No bragging rights here.”
If those on the Blue side were not thrilled Saturday morning, all of the Panthers should be cheering if Lora can duplicate his efforts in the coming season.
“You talk about yards after catch,” EIU coach Bob Spoo said. “That’s what we’ve been missing.”
Lora, who totaled three receptions for 105 yards for the White team in addition to one 24-yard reception for the Blues, said: “I’m a big yards after catch guy. The more yards the better.”
Along with Chris Wright who had four catches for 68 yards including a 34-yard touchdown on fourth-and-10, Lora led the way allowing Large to win a good quarterbacks duel in this spring showdown that had another QB candidate Doug Reynolds out with a shoulder injury.
Large, the transfer from Scottsdale (Ariz.) Community College with three years of eligibility remaining, finished 15-for-24 for 282 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.
Shadonta Travis, a redshirted walk-on from Bolingbrook, is not just bowing out of this quarterback picture.
On the Blues’ first possession Travis guided a 51-yard drive capped by a play in which appeared headed for a run up the middle on third-down-and-2 but then tossed a 6-yard pass to tight end Cody Bruns in the end zone.
Travis finished 19-for-27 for 264 yards with two touchdowns and also netted 22 yards on six running plays.
But mixed in with his dazzling plays were two red zone interceptions, including one that ended the game as Alex McNulty picked off a pass tipped by Perry Maynard.
In the last minute of the first half, Ryan Turner intercepted a Travis pass in the end zone after the Blues had driven from their own 30-yard line to the White 10.
“That comes with the game,” Travis said of the turnovers.
Assessing his play, Travis said, “I think I did pretty good but I still have a long way to go.”
With experience as a quarterback, receiver and running back when playing for Bolingrook High School, Travis could move to another position for Eastern.
“I’m hoping to play quarterback but whatever they want me to play, I’ll do,” the 6-foot-1, 175-pounder said.
Spoo was not ruling the athletic Travis out of the quarterback job.
“They are making our decisions pretty difficult,” the coach said in general of plenty of positions following the spring game.
“I thought both quarterbacks were exceptional. I don’t know what the stats were but I don’t think there were many incompletions.”
Eastern’s top three ground gainers from last season – Mon Williams, Chevon Walker and Jimmy Potempa – all sat out the spring game because of injuries.
That provided considerable opportunities for Desmin Ward, who probably helped his cause on the depth chart rushing for 92 yards on 17 carries.
“Desmin has had an outstanding spring,” Spoo said. “He’s back to where he could be a contributor in that I-formation.”
Eastern, however, spent much of the spring implementing facets of a spread offense.
“We didn’t show everything we could do out of that,” Spoo said. “I’m really proud of our coaches for going out and researching it.”
Eastern’s defensive leaders included safety Carlos Reyna, who had five tackles and a pass breakup, and linebacker Perry Maynard, who also had five tackles.
Getting five tackles for the Blues were defensive back Nick Beard and end Perry Burge, who had a quarterback sack and a tackle for loss. Cornerback C.J. James broke up two passes.
The White team had the last big defensive play as Maynard broke up the pass that McNulty grabbed for the game-ending interception.
“It was fun,” Maynard said. “Through next week we’ll be able to laugh about it. But we all played well.”
Lora lifts whites to spring game win
By BRIAN NIELSEN, Journal Gazette-Times Courier