Pirates Complete Final Fall Scrimmage
Kurt Benkert engineered three scoring drives in five possessions and completed 8-of-13 passes for 87 yards, while the running back trio of Devin Anderson (two yards), Shawn Furlow (12) and Chris Hairston (57) each tallied rushing touchdowns during East Carolina’s final scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday morning at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium. The controlled scrimmage, which was played under clear skies with temperatures in the low 80’s, consisted of approximately 70 plays that included all levels of the program’s positional charts. “I was very pleased with both sides of the ball today,” sixth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill said. “I liked the execution and thought the special teams did a great job as well. Our sideline communication was a lot better today from box to field to coaches, and our sub packages went smooth.” Hairston, who led all rushers with 68 yards on five carries, scored the contest’s first touchdown with a 57-yard run up the middle on the Pirates’ initial drive of the day. Benkert marched the offense down the field on his final two possessions of the morning, which resulted in a field goal and another ground score. On a 2nd-and-two snap from the 40, Benkurt connected with Davon Grayson on a 32-yard strike down to the five-yard line. Hairston moved the ball to the two on a three-yard run, and after a pair of incomplete fade attempts to the corner of the endzone, Connor Torruella capped the drive with a 27-yard field goal. Guiding the second unit, Blake Kemp was 6-of-10 for 94 yards, which included a pair of 30-plus yard passes to Grayson to set up Anderson’s touchdown. Kemp opened the drive with a 17-yard completion to Quay Johnson, and after 30 and 31-yard strikes to Grayson, Anderson scored from two yards out with Torruella connecting on the PAT. A heavy dose of runs during Benkert’s final possession resulted in Furlow’s 12-yard touchdown, which was followed by Davis Plowman’s PAT. Furlow, who rushed for 40 yards on 10 carries, got the offense moving with runs of 20 and four yards, before Anderson followed with scampers of 16, 13 and five yards down to the 12-yard line. Grayson led all pass catchers with five receptions for 104 yards. Fellow classmate Isaiah Jones added four receptions for 31 yards, while Beau Huffman (36 yards) and DaQuan Barnes (11) each caught a pair of passes. Defensively, the Pirates tallied seven TFLs (five sacks) for minus 22 yards, batted down four balls and held the offense to 38.5 percent on third downs. Randall Anderson and Zeek Bigger topped all defenders with four tackles, while six others added three. Chris Love, who had a pair of stops, picked off the lone pass in the endzone with no return. In addition to averaging nearly six yards per play during the scrimmage, the Pirate offense was only flagged once all morning by an American Athletic Conference officiating crew. “I like the way we ran the ball today,” McNeill added. “We got in 70 plays, which is a lot. After I got a good look at the first unit, I wanted to see the twos and threes play, and I like what I saw. Those guys are battling for spots right now and I really liked watching them compete.”
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