Aggies hold first scrimmage

Quarterback Buck Pierce started the scrimmage with a touchdown drive and ended the day with a touchdown pass.

In between, signal callers Paul Dombrowski and Joey Vincent turned a few heads. The New Mexico State football team held its first scrimmage of August practice Tuesday afternoon at Aggie Memorial Stadium and the squad showed off its two starting signal callers (Pierce and Dombrowski) before the few assembled fans in the stands.

Despite the fact Pierce — who was first to direct the offense — tripped and fell on the opening play for a two-yard loss, offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski was fairly pleased with the effort.

"What I really liked is you didn't see any balls on the ground," the coach said about the lack of fumbles. "That's a good sign early." Pierce, a 6-foot-1, 210-pound fourth-year junior, rebounded from his opening trip. He evaded a near sack by linebacker and Aggie captain Tim Patrick, stepped forward and nailed Chris Lumpkin with a long pass.

A few plays later he found Ronshay Jenkins toeing the sideline and dropped the pigskin right into the receivers arms at the two-yard line for a 36-yard gain. Three plays later he took the ball across the goal line himself for the scrimmage's first score.

Pierce was moderately pleased with the effort. "We did all right," he said. "There was a lot of enthusiasm, a lot of guys are really excited and that's a good feeling. It's good to see everybody trying hard and on the same page." Vincent, who is third on the NMSU depth chart behind center after co-starters Pierce and Dombrowski, entered the action and began to move the offense.

The 6-0, 207-pound redshirt freshman hit receiver Jared Quick for a 34-yard gain that set up another score. The pass was under thrown, but Quick came back for the ball to make the completion.

Several plays later Vincent capped the drive with a five-yard run into the end zone. "I've said all along that we're a three-quarterback team," said Gdowski, a former Nebraska QB himself. "Joey's got great athletic ability." Dombrowski reflected his coach's opinion. "We're three deep at quarterback, definitely," the 6-0, 216-pound third year sophomore said. "Joey is very athletic and knows the offense."

Running back Eric Higgins got the start at I-back but saw limited action. Redshirt freshman Tony Joseph ran the ball well and broke several long runs, including a 21-yard scamper. Dombrowski directed several drives but said he hopes to improve his passing. "I had a couple of passes that were off target, I've got to improve that," he said.

Not so fast Head coach Tony Samuel was more reserved about what he saw on the field. "It was OK," he said in his usual even-keeled manner. "I would liked for us to have a little more energy. We took a break and everyone seemed to lose their energy a little bit."

He said he hoped the chance to bang heads in a quasi-game setting would perk the team up some. "I think it's important to get the first scrimmage underway," he said. "Maybe it'll help the guys turn it up another notch, remind them that the season's getting closer."

Not that he feels his team is struggling. He said he saw some evidence of a good team on the field Tuesday. "Ronshay caught a few nice passes," he said. "(Joseph) has got a lot of potential. He looked good out there."

When a member of the media said that to his "untrained eye" the scrimmage looked pretty clean, Samuel laughed and said: "Untrained eye, that means you only watched the offense, right?"

The boot Senior Dario Aguiniga has the place-kicking position sewed up — he is a preseason All Sun Belt Conference pick — but he might get some help on kickoffs. Freshman Ryan Guardia from Mississippi, who checks in at 5-8, 216 pounds, booted the ball during kick off drills before the start of the scrimmage and consistently put the ball inside the five-yard line. Guardia also took his turn on PATs and made three of four. He banged one off the left goal post.

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