Some football teams avoid all kickoff and punt returns in a spring game to avoid injuries or to speed up the process.

  Greenville coach Darren Duke left the kicking game in the Lions’ Red-White football game on Thursday night and returns played a big part in the Red team’s 21-7 victory.

  “We had some big returns in the kicking game,” said Lions coach Darren Duke, adding that it made for a more enjoyable contest. “That’s why I left the kicking game in there. Overall, it was a good game. There was a good pace to it. Overall, I’m real pleased.”

  After returning quarterback Anthony Johnson threw for a 37-yard touchdown pass to Caleb Hale for the White team, Jaykieston Perkins of the Red team returned a kick 80 yards for a touchdown.

  Dadrian Payton set up the White team’s second touchdown with a long punt return. Quarterback Ethan Brand stretched his arms out with the football over the goal line after running 5 yards for the touchdown.

  Payton also returned an interception 40 yards for the final touchdown of the scrimmage.

  The White team recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff but the Red defense turned back the White offense from just outside the red zone.

  Jaden Gibson of the Red team recovered a fumbled punt.

  Kendreon Blakely of the White team also intercepted a pass.

  Nick Just of the White defense recovered a Red team fumble. Just also booted an extra point. 

  Johnson, who shared time at quarterback last season with senior Micah Simpson, connected with his receivers several times on passes.

  “I thought we had a lot of effort,” said Duke. “I thought the kids got after it. They were itching to get after each other. We don’t go live (with full contact) all the time in practice.”

  The Lions avoided any serious injuries.

  “That’s your number one goal,” said Duke. “We’ll get a chance to evaluate the game film.”

  The Red-White game capped three weeks of spring training for the Lions, who’ll return to practice on Aug. 7. They’ll start a week behind most of the Texas high school teams because they opted for spring training and will be allowed only one preseason scrimmage.

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