Pirates Complete First Scrimmage
East Carolina held its first intra-squad scrimmage of pre-season camp Saturday morning. The Pirates ran approximately 50 plays on the Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium grass — the site where they will kick-off their season in two weeks — and had American Athletic Conference officials on hand for the first time to work the scrimmage. “Stadium look was the biggest thing; getting them in the stadium and executing in the stadium,” said fifth-year coach Ruffin McNeill. “I haven’t been in the stadium since the resurfacing has gone on. It was good to get those kids who have not been in the stadium a little dose of how it feels.” Aside from a few penalties, the first-team offense was efficient. Senior quarterback Shane Carden was a perfect 12-for-12 on his passes for 158 yards and tossed a pair of touchdowns to his fellow classmate, Justin Hardy, who hauled in five catches for 58 yards. “It was just another day in the office. Nothing different, just moving the venues coming from practice to the game field,” Hardy said. Two of the notable story lines heading into the scrimmage were the position battles on the offensive line and at running back. Junior offensive lineman Tre Robertson, who filled in at right tackle last season, played with the first-team offense at right guard while junior college transfer Dontae Levingston was at right tackle. Ike Harris was at his normal spot at left tackle, J.T. Boyd at left guard and Taylor Hudson at center. However, with new faces, position battles and older players playing new positions on the line, the unit has yet to develop strong continuity and it showed in stretches Saturday. “We’ve been talking about just playing good, five-man football up front. There were a lot of plays where we’ve got three guys doing their job. We want to be more consistent,” said offensive line coach Brandon Jones. “Probably the biggest negative were the penalties … but if we can eliminate those and just continue to play fast and be consistent, I think we have the chance to be pretty good.” In the six-man race at running back, nobody took command in the first scrimmage to earn an edge in the competition. Freshman Anthony Scott led the way with 48 rushing yards on four carries. There were a few big plays, but it has become obvious that the talent disparity between the backs is very small. “Running back was explosive, but a little spotty. I didn’t think anyone was unbelievable, but I thought they all had some really good runs, all were pretty productive (and) all could have played a little better,” offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley said. Carden added, “I’m glad I’m not the coach that has to make the decision of who to start, who to play because I want them all to start.” There are always two sides to the story during intra-squad scrimmages. Naturally, when one side of the ball plays well, the other side has some work to do. The first-team defense had numerous key players sit out because of injury — including nose tackle Terry Williams and linebackers Montese Overton, Zeek Bigger and Maurice Falls — and missed a few opportunities to get off the field on third down. The Pirates’ offense was 5-for-9 on third-down conversions. “Not a lot,” said defensive coordinator Rick Smith when asked what he liked from his first-team defense. “The (first-team) was not good. I thought the twos and threes did okay.” Starting free safety Domonique Lennon was in perfect position for an interception on the five yard line, but could not control the ball. When the second-teams were pitted against each other, sophomore cornerback Dashawn Benton picked off Kurt Benkert and appeared to on his way to a touchdown when the whistle blew. It was booked as a 15-yard interception return, but McNeill tossed Benton the ball shortly afterward to allow him to run it back the rest of the way. The team will return to Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium Saturday night for the school’s annual “Meet the Pirates” event. Sunday is a day off from practice, but the team’s freshmen are expected to put on a talent show for their teammates. ————— STATS ————— RUSHING: Anthony Scott (4-48), Marquez Grayson (4-20), Chris Love (4-9), Breon Allen (1-6), Kurt Benkert (2-<-1>), Blake Kemp (1-<-8>), Shane Carden (2-<-10>). Totals –– 18-64 (3.6 ypr). PASSING: Shane Carden (12-12-0, 158 yards, 2 TD), Jonathon Weymann (5-3-0, 55 yards), Kurt Benkert (8-3-1, 40 yards), Blake Kemp (5-2-0, 10 yards). Totals –– 30-20-1, 263 yards, 2 TD (66.7%). RECEIVING: Justin Hardy (5-52, 2 TD), Cam Worthy (4-60), Davon Grayson (1-39), Jacen Murphy (1-34), Brandon Bishop (2-25), Malik Gray (2-11), Marquez Grayson (1-25), Beau Huffman (1-7), Jimmy Williams (1-4), Chris Hairston (1-3), Anthony Scott (1-3). Totals –– 20-263, 2 TD TACKLES: Josh Hawkins 4, Fred Presley 4 (sack/-5 yards, TFL/-5 yards), Ray Tillman 4, Mike Myers 3, Detric Allen 2, Randall Anderson 2, Demage Bailey 2, Yiannis Bowden 2 (sack/-8 yards, TFL/-8 yards), Devaris Brunson 2, Pat Green 2 (QBH), Lamar Ivey 2, Demetri McGill 2 (sack/-3 yards, TFL/-3 yards), Dayon Pratt 2, Cody Purdie 2, Chrishon Rose 2 (sack/-5 yards, TFL/-5 yards), Travon Simmons 2, Joe Allely 1, DaShawn Benton 1 (INT/15 yards), Bobby Fulp 1, Jake Geary 1, Trevian Hicks 1, Domonique Lennon 1, Nate Mays 1, Terrell Richardson 1, Rocco Scarfone 1, Reece Speight 1, Johnathon White 1, Brandon Williams 1. TOTAL OFFENSE/TOTAL DEFENSE: 48-327 (6.8 ypp) FUMBLES/LOST: 1/0 INTERCEPTIONS: 1 THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 5-9 (55.6%) – Kurt Benkert (2-3), Shane Carden (1-1), Jonathon Weymann (1-2, Blake Kemp (1-3) FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS (when attempted): 0-0 PENALTIES: 7 (4/OFFENSE – 1 holding, 1 false start, 1 block in back, 1 facemask; 3/DEFENSE – 2 offside, 1 facemask) QUARTERBACK FIRST DOWN/SCORING CHART (DRIVES) Shane Carden – 6 first downs, 2 TD (TD, TD) Kurt Benkert – 6 first downs (interception, missed field goal) Jonathon Weymann – 2 first downs, 1 FG (FG) Blake Kemp – 1 first down (downs, downs) SCORING: TDs – 2 (PATs 2-2), FGs – 1 Justin Hardy 13-yard pass from Shane Carden (Warren Harvey PAT) Justin Hardy 7-yard pass from Shane Carden (Warren Harvey PAT) Davis Plowman 20-yard field goal
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