Big Hits, Big Plays In Full Game Scrimmage

There were big hits and big plays in the first full game-like scrimmage of the fall camp for the Thundering Herd on Saturday. Known quantities like Stan Hill, Earl Charles and Curtis Keyes were looking like they did for much of 2003, while newcomers like Maurice Kitchens, Ahmad Bradshaw, Emanuel Spann and Shawn Lauzon were players who had the crowd excited in the long, 125-play scrimmage at Edwards Stadium. Some returning players stepped up and announced they will look for playing time, as well.

Some of those returning were defenders like linebacker Matt Couch and safety Lonnie McCowan. Couch, playing in place of the injured J.T. Rembert with the one defense, recorded 12 tackles, a half-sack, a tackle-for-loss and a pass-broken up. McCowan, running with the two defense, led all tacklers with 13 stops on the day, a tackle-for-loss and the big hit of the day, forcing a fumble on a hit on receiver Mandell Smithm after an eight-yard gain. Curtis Keyes had eight stops at the one safety while Dennis Thornton recorded seven stops with the two linebacking unit.

Also among the returning players, who were not starters last year, with a big day on defense were safeties Chris Royal (six tackles), Chris Chisholm (four tackles) and Geremy Rodamer (four tackles); defensive linemen Byron Tinker (two tackles, a tackle-for-loss and an interception) and Rodney Garrett (two tackles, a sack and a quarterback pressure); and linebackers Travis Noel (a sack and tackle-for-loss) and Scott Wilks (two tackles and two tackles-for-loss), who also holds for kicks.

"We were better today than yesterday," said head coach Bob Pruett at the end of the long scrimmage, "and we were much better than a week ago. That's why you get 29 practices before the opener and we have two more weeks to work. There was some good contact today, on both sides of the ball, and some of the young guys really stepped up. Teamwise, we had a lot more speed in our step than (Friday, when Pruett dressed the team down for "lack of effort" in the morning practice yesterday)."

Some of those young guys are not hard to find. Ahmad Bradshaw continues to turn heads on offense. He rushed nine times for 52 yards (5.8 yards per carry), caught two passes for 11 yards, returned a kickoff 24 yards, returned a punt 11 yards and scored two touchdowns with the first offense. Freshmen receivers Shawn Lauzon (3 catches/46 yards) and Emanuel Spann (3/19) were also impressive, but sophomore tight end Matt Morris of Beckley Woodrow Wilson stole the show by catching four passes for 69 yards to lead all receivers. He also had a highlite reel play when he tried to hurdle defensive back Ivan Clark and spun head-over-heels on a 12-yard gain. A freshman no one has been talking about is running back Anthony Hayes from Princeton, who rushed eight times for 15 yards late in the going and caught one pass for 14 more yards. Receiver-come-quarterback Bernard Morris did not catch a pass, but drew two pass interference penalties.

Of course, some of the "old guard" had pretty good days, too. Quarterback Stan Hill threw 30 times, completing 22, for 236 yards and drove the first team offense to three touchdowns and a field goal. He had an interception, by dropping defensive tackle Tinker, and muffed a couple of snaps, losing one. "We still have to eliminate the little things, the little mistakes," said Hill. "Offside, holding, too many first-and-15 or first-and-20. But the receivers ran good routes and we had some big runs on the day. I was a little rusty from sitting out some this week (with elbow fatigue) and a little off on some checks. We will smooth those out." Earl Charles played sparingly, rushing six times for 30 yards (5.0 ypr) and one score, while catching two balls for 29 more yards. Donte' Newsome rushed for 60 yards on 15 carries (4.0 ypr) with the second team, including the long play of the scrimmage, a 56 yard run in the second quarter.

Another big play came on special teams, when late in the contest McCowan took a fake punt handoff for 39 yards against the first defense. Special teams had some ups and downs, but the punt game looks in great shape. Ian O'Connor punted four times for a 44.0 yard per punt average and pinned one inside the five-yard line. Freshmen Marty Biagi (1 punt for 42 yards) and Danny Urrego (2/45.0 average) punted well. Kicking was a bit more of an adventure. O'Connor missed the first two extra-points of the day then hit the third. He missed a 53 and one-half yard field goal when it hit the middle of the crossbar, came up short on a 52-yard kick but nailed a 47-yard field goal later in the first half. Urrego had a bad snap sail over his head on one punt for a 22-yard loss. Marshall averaged almost 20 yards per kickoff return, with Emanuel Spann having a 32-yard best of the day, and had 16 yards on four punt returns (4.0 ypr), with Bradshaw's 11-yard return the best of four.

Marshall football practices will take off Sunday, as the student-athletes prepare for the first day of classes at the University on Monday. Marshall usually practices on Monday evenings during the regular season and 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Marshall's ticket office will have "Choose-A-Seat" events on both Thursday (5:00 p.m.) and Saturday (11:00 a.m.) to help fans purchase season tickets for the 2004 season, which opens up on September 4, at 4:30 p.m., against the Trojans of Troy University. There will be no local network television, but the games can all be heard on WRVC 930 AM, WDGG 93.7 FM and the Thundering Herd/ISP Sports Radio Network all season.

Statistics
Rushing: Donte' Newsome 15/60; Ahmad Bradshaw 9/52, 2 TD; Lonnie McCowan 1/39; Earl Charles 6/30, TD; Tank Tunstalle 7/22; Anthony Hayes 8/15; Team 1/(-22).
Passing: Stan Hill 30-22-1, 236 yards; Jimmy Skinner 7-6-0, 44 yards; Graham Gochneaur 2-1-0, 3 yards.
Receiving: Matt Morris 4/69; Shawn Lauzon 3/46; Emanuel Spann 3/19; Earl Charles 2/29; Tremel Guillory 2/22; Wilbur Hargrove 2/18; Brad Bates 2/15; Ahmad Bradshaw 2/11; Marcus Fitzgerald 2/9; Mandell Smith 2/8; Joe Diefel 1/22; Anthony Hayes 1/14; Jeff Mullens 1/13 (one other for 12 yards called back on penalty); Hiram Moore 1/3; Tank Tunstalle 1/0; Mike Nolan 1/(-1)
Punt Returns:Spann 2/0; Bradshaw 1/11.
Kick Returns:Spann 2/48; Bradshaw 1/24; Hargrove 1/13; Chris Royal 1/12.
PuntingLIan O'Connor 4/44.0, 1-In20; Danny Urrego 2/45.0; Marty Biagi 1/42.0.
Field Goals:O'Connor 53-miss; 52-miss; 47-good.
DefensiveLonnie McCowan 13 tkl, tfl, ff; Matt Couch 12 tkl, .5 qbs, pbu; Curtis Keyes 8tkl; Dennis Thornton 7 tkl; Maurice Kitchens 7 tkl; Kevin Atkins 6 tkl, tfl; Chris Royal 6 tkl; Geremy Rodamer 4 tkl; Chris Chisholm 4 tkl; Reggie Hayes 3 tkl, 1.5 qbs; Jamaal Whyce 3 tkl; Blake Merritt 3 tkl, fr; Jamus Martin 3 tkl, tfl, ff; Scott Wilks 2 tkl, 2 tfl; Dionte' Wilson 2 tkl, tfl; Roger Garrett 2 tkl, qbs, qbp; Byron Tinker 2 tkl, tfl, int; Jamall Sanders 2 tkl; Terick Thomas 2 tkl, tfl; Jonathan Goddard tkl, sack, qbp; Travis Noel tkl, tfl, qbs; Ian Hoskins tkl, qbs; Moriah Anderson tkl, tfl (tkl/tackle; tfl/tackle-for-loss; qbs/quarterback sack; qbp/ quarterback pressure; ff/forced fumble; fr/fumble recovered; int/interception; pbu/pass-broken-up).


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