Bender throws six(!) TDs in second scrimmage

PULLMAN — The Cougars took part in their second live scrimmage of spring on Saturday at Martin Stadium. After the offense produced some big plays against defense in the first scrimmage, the defense managed to change the script this time around by forcing turnovers. But they had no answer for emerging redshirt freshman quarterback Peyton Bender.

The first turnover of the day for the defense came on the number one offense’s first series of the scrimmage. Third-year sophomore quarterback Luke Falk seemed to have control of the offense by dishing out multiple short passes across the middle, helping the offense reach the red zone. But when Falk tried to hit a receiver on a slant route, fourth-year junior linebacker Parker Henry stepped in the way to deflect the ball, which then fell into the arms of sophomore cornerback Marcellus Pippins for an interception.

“That was an awesome read on his part,” third-year sophomore linebacker Peyton Pelluer said, “(Henry’s) the man.”

Pelluer thought the defense as a whole performed better in their second live matchup against the offense.

“I think the positives definitely outweighed the negatives, obviously we’re still trying to get back into being more consistent, and that takes time, and that’s why we’re here doing what we’re doing this spring,” he said. “But I had fun. I think the defense as a whole had fun, and it was a good day.”

Pippins had another interception when Bender overthrew a pass. Defensive coordinator Alex Grinch has emphasized to the secondary this spring how important it is to create more turnovers this year.

“It’s not a try to thing, we got to find a way to get the ball. Our one responsibility when we walk on that football field is to get the ball back to the offense, so we continue to harp on it, and I certainly think the guys are buying in,” Grinch said. “Now you got to make sure you got the appropriate technique and those things so you can execute the ball when it comes your way.”

Grinch added that he hopes to see more caused fumbles from the defense, which can happen if the defense plays more physical.

On offense, Bender appeared to outplay Falk for a second straight practice. Bender completed 21 of 28 passes for 266 yards and six touchdown passes. The Florida native had great touch on most of his throws, especially with the deep balls.

“He always impresses me,” fourth-year junior wide receiver Gabe Marks said. “He’s got a live arm and he’s just a good guy. He stays cool under pressure so that’s big as a quarterback.”

Bender said he feels he could start if called upon.

“I think I’ve performed well throughout spring and it’s been a good competition,” Bender said. “Luke has played really well too, but you know that’s up for the coaches to decide.”

Falk finished the day completing 25 of 35 passes for 197 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for another.

“I thought it was all right,” Falk said. “We moved the ball well, but the first drive if we got that in (the end zone) I would’ve felt a lot better on how the day went, but I thought the guys did a nice job around me and just did their part.”

Both Falk’s touchdowns went to Marks. The Venice, Calif. native bailed out Falk on a touchdown by making a diving catch in the corner of the end zone. After the catch, Marks went over to the stands to chat with a few fans about the play.

“It was in the air and I was thinking ‘man like Luke, I don’t know about this one,’” Marks said. “As I was running, I reached out, I thought I was on the white (line), but they said I was in, so it was a good play.”

Marks finished the day with seven catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Transfer Kyrin Priester led the receiving unit in catches today with eight and tallied 98 yards and two touchdown receptions. Sophomore wide receiver Calvin Green also had a productive day by hauling in seven catches for 91 yards and touchdown.

“This is the most consistent I’ve seen everybody play in our offense since I’ve been here,” Marks said. “No one gets up too high when we make a good play, no one gets too low when they make a bad play. Everyone’s just doing their job. “The main thing that we’re focusing on (this spring) and I focused on last year when I wasn’t playing was getting straight up the field after I caught the ball instead of catching it and like looking around and seeing who was going to hit me.”

The Cougars will hold their 12th spring practice at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday.

NOTABLE NOTES:

Players who were limited in practice today included Brett Bartolone, Nick Begg, River Cracraft, Sulaiman Hameed.

Third-year sophomore running back Gerard Wicks had a nice run up the middle and ran over fourth-year junior safety David Bucannon.

Freshman quarterback Tyler Hilinski finished the day completing 10 of 19 pass for 121 yards and two touchdowns.

The scrimmage lasted 109 plays.

Running with the one’s:

Offense:

QB: Luke Falk/Peyton Bender
RB: Gerard Wicks
X: Dom Williams
Y: Robert Lewis
H: Tyler Baker
Z: Gabe Marks
LT: Joe Dahl
LG: Gunnar Eklund
C: Riley Sorenson
RG: Eduardo Middleton
RT: Cole Madison
Defense:

E: Darryl Paulo
NT: Daniel Ekuale
T: Destiny Vaeao
BUCK: Kache Palacio
WILL: Jeremiah Allison
MIKE: Peyton Pelluer
CB: Marcellus Pippins
CB: Charleston White
DB: Darius Lemora
S: Taylor Taliulu
S: Isaac Dotson


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