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Vipers hold Green vs. Black Spring Game

May 15—HENDERSON — Last week, the Vance County Vipers hosted a Spring Game scrimmage during the football team's off-season.

The self-scrimmage was between the Black Team and the Green "Smoney" Team, with the former being mostly offensive starters, led by star quarterback Jayvion "Juice" Vines-Holder; and the latter made up of the defensive starters anchored by three-star recruit Taeshawn Alston — who only played three games last year, missing most of the season with a shoulder injury.

However, junior Antoine Doyle, backup quarterback and all-conference wrestler, stole the spotlight in the game. Doyle's team won 5-0 and his safety on defense was a big component of the victory.

With the game being two-hand touch, there was a little gray area on where the play ended versus what would actually happen in a live game. However, head coach Aaron Elliott emphasized the main priority was keeping everybody healthy.

"Your ego is not bigger than this program," said Elliott.

After a pinpoint punt from kicker Aidan Labra, the Black Team was pinned on their own goal line. Electing to hand the ball off to 225-lb running back Jontavious Nile, the Black Team was bottled up after Doyle broke through the line of scrimmage and tagged Nile for a safety and the first points of the game to make it 2-0.

After the slow offensive start for both teams, Coach Elliott addressed both squads at center field during halftime. The Green Team started with the ball in the second half and immediately started moving down the field with a two-point lead.

A first down on a throw to Alston and then a big run from freshman Zion Thorton moved the ball across the 50. A beautiful jump pass from Doyle across the middle of the field gained another first down before Thorton turned the corner and used his speed to get just outside the redzone.

Doyle went right back to the jump throw to bring his squad inside the 10-yard-line, but a holding penalty brought them back before a low pass stalled the drive and forced a field goal attempt. After missing his first try for the Black Team in the first half, Labra drained his second attempt for the Green Team to put them up by five. But with under eight minutes to go, the Black team wasn't going to roll over.

They handed the ball off to Nile for a pair of two good runs of their own, needing just one touchdown to gain the lead. However, after the two positive plays, Team Black went nowhere, turning the ball over on downs and handing it right back to Green with only four minutes left.

When the Black Team finally got the ball back, Vines-Holder and company had to run a flawless two-minute drill to score a touchdown and claim the scrimmage victory. Rallying for a chance to come back and score, the nifty scrambler took off, but a quick whistle halted his progress and brought up third-and-2.

On third down, "Juice" was sacked behind the line of scrimmage for a 2-yard loss, bringing up fourth-and-5 on possibly their last chance of the game.

Rolling out, Vines-Holder tried to keep his team's hopes alive and hurled a pass down the field in Thorton's direction. The young footballer appeared to have a chance at the ball, but the pass was broken up, securing an off-season dub for the "Smoney" Team.

While the win only counts for bragging rights for half the team, the real victory was that there were no injuries after the Spring Game and two weeks of rigorous football training, which Coach Elliott was very happy about.

It was also good for young players, like Thorton, to get some football experience against a varsity-level roster.

"I was a little jittery and nervous to start out," said Thorton. "But once I got going, it was good."

As for Vines-Holder, the standout quarterback was mostly kept under control by the Green Team defense, scoring zero touchdowns on the ground or the air, but he said it will be a whole different story once the real action happens.

"Catch me when the season starts," said Vines-Holder.

The Vipers will play their first game of the season on Sept. 27 on the road against Louisburg.