Garrett Grayson completed 16 of 28 passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns during Colorado State University's spring football game Saturday, leading his team to a 14-6 victory at Hughes Stadium in Fort Collins.
The Heritage High School gradaute, who played in four games and started three as a true freshman then last season was the Rams' starter until suffering a broken collarbone in a Sept. 29 game against Air Force, is battling Conner Smith for the starting position.
Grayson played Saturday with the Green team — CSU's starting offense and second-string defense — in the victory over the Gold team of the defensive starters and offensive backups.
Smith — who started four games last season following injuries to Grayson and M.J. McPeek — ran the whole game with the second offensive unit and the Gold team, going 16-for-26 for 132 yards, with one interception.
"It wasn't that Grayson looked that much better than Smith," reported Terry Frei of the Denver Post. "It was that the deployment confirmed the general impression of spring ball that Grayson — a junior from Vancouver, Wash. — all but has the job to lose. But the words all pointed to the staff not wanting Grayson to get too secure, and a continuation of a spring-long challenge to him to become more of a leader."
Last season, Grayson returned from surgery to repair the collarbone and played briefly Nov. 3 against Wyoming, but did not return to game action.
Before the injury, he had thrown just two interceptions in the first four full games of the season — the first CSU quarterback to accomplish that since Kelly Stouffer in 1985.
With touchdown passes and a scoring run Sept. 15 at San Jose State, he became just the third Colorado State quarterback in the last four seasons to score a touchdown rushing and two or more passing in the same game — and the only one during that stretch to do it on the road.
In his abbreviated sophomore season, Grayson was 78 of 138 passing with seven touchdowns and three interceptions.
After Saturday's scrimmage, CSU coach Jim McElwain told the Post:
"I'm not ready to anoint a guy yet. There's another phase that we have that we're moving into. We have to see how they handle the football team over the summer."
Grayson gave the Post mixed reviews of his own performance.
"There were a few plays I wish I had back, a few throws that were high and outside," he said. "I felt good, though, thought I showed I want to be that guy, want to be the leader. There were two times out there we got in tough situations and I tried to speak up, say, 'Let's go, let's get this thing going.' "
Grayson's touchdown passes were a 4-yarder to tailback Chris Nwoke and 7-yarder to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jordon Vaden.
McElwain told the Post the Rams were trying not to give anything away to interested observers from the University of Colorado — CSU's rivalry opponent in the season opener.
"We kept it pretty vanilla," he said. "We knew there would probably be about nine or 10 guys from Boulder sitting up there."
NAIA national honor for Cavaliers' Dixson
Concordia University senior thrower Gabi Dixson was named the NAIA Women's Field Athlete of the Week following her performances at the Long Beach State Invitational in Norwalk, Calif.
Dixson, from Battle Ground, garnered the national recognition for the fifth time in her career.
It marks the most national athlete of the week awards in school history. Dixson was also named Cascade Collegiate Conference women's field athlete of the week for the third consecutive week.
The 11-time NAIA All-American earned her latest national honor after defeating several NCAA Division I athletes to win the shot put -- in a field of 65 throwers -- with a personal-best throw of 50 feet, 23/4 inches.
Her throw makes her the only NAIA thrower with a mark of more than 50 feet in the shot put this season, as the NAIA's No. 2 thrower--Hastings' (Neb.) Jennifer Maag--stands more than a foot behind at 48-111/2.
The previous day at the prestigious Mount San Antonio College Relays meet in Walnut, Calif., Dixson placed third in the shot put at 50-21/2.
She was the only Top 10 placer not from an NCAA Division I school.
Dixson was also 19th at the Mt. SAC Relays in the discus, a mark of 157-2.
County trio help Linfield win NWC softball title
A trio of Clark County products helped Linfield College claim the Northwest Conference softball crown with a 3-2 victory Sunday over defending champion Pacific Lutheran at its home field in McMinnville, Ore.
The Wildcats claimed the NWC automatic bid to the NCAA Division III playoffs, the program's 10th consecutive appearance at regionals.
Center fielder Grace Middlestadt, a Prairie High School graduate, scored the tying run in the bottom of the third inning. Middlestadt reached base on an error and stole second before scoring on Karleigh Prestianni's hit to make it 2-2.
Middelstadt stole four bases as Linfield went 3-0 in the tournament, raising her career total to 51, fifth-most in program history.
Right fielder Erin Carson, a Camas High School graduate, had one of Linfield's seven hits in the game.
Union High School graduate McKenna Spieth is the Wildcats' catcher.
All three are sophomores.
Linfield (36-6), which eliminated Pacific and Whitworth with victories Saturday, awaits word of its regional playoff destination. The full 62-team field will be revealed May 6.
Eight teams will compete at seven of the regional sites and six teams will compete at one site.
The eight-team regionals will be staged May 9-13 and the six-team regional will be held May 10-13.
The tournaments will use a double-elimination format.
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