Defense Shines In First Scrimmage

GREENVILLE, N.C. – A physical front seven that tallied six tackles for lost yardage to go along with an interception and sack from the Pirate secondary highlighted the defensive unit, while a six-yard scoring strike spearheaded the offensive performance during East Carolina’s first intra-squad scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday morning at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.

The controlled scrimmage, which was played under mostly clear skies with temperatures in the low-90’s, consisted of approximately 60 plays that included all levels of the program’s positional charts.

“Today was the first time out in the stadium with a live practice and overall I thought it went well,” said fourth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill. “We got a chance to play in a game-like atmosphere with officials today and I thought we did a good job in minimizing the penalties. There are still some small things we have to work on in that area, and we will address those in the film room.

“I saw some positive things happen today with some young players stepping up and making plays. The offensive line did a great job blending those 10 guys in the first and second groups and they went toe-to-toe with defensive front seven.”

Cody Keith completed his first three passes of the day for 17 yards to move the second unit into field goal range, where Warren Harvey connected from 42 yards out for the game’s first score. In all, Keith completed 8-of-17 strikes for 47 yards and converted a pair of third down plays.

After completing just three of his first eight passes, Shane Carden found his rhythm late in the scrimmage to connect on five of his final seven, which included a six-yard scoring throw to Davon Grayson. Following a 12-yard pass to Zico Pasut to the one-yard line, a false start backed up the offensive unit to the six before Carden connected with Grayson on a fade route where he out-jumped a group of defenders for the contest’s only touchdown. Kurt Benkert completed 1-of-5 passes for 12 yards and generated a pair of first downs in three drives.

Michael Dobson and Maurice Falls each tallied six stops for the Pirate defense with Falls posting one of six tackles for lost yardage, teaming up with Terry Williams on a one-yard stop during the first possession. Detric Allen and Montese Overton combined on the lone sack of the scrimmage, dropping Carden for a seven-yard loss. The defensive unit slowed the rushing attack, limiting a quartet of running backs to 85 yards on 25 rushes, an average of 3.4 yards per carry.

“The defense is sometimes ahead of the offense in camp and that’s to be expected,” McNeill added.” Overall I was pleased with what I saw with that group in their rotations and making plays. There are some substitution things we need to work on, but I thought they executed exactly what Coach (Rick) Smith wanted to do today.”

Marquez Grayson (nine carries) and Cory Hunter (four) each rushed for 33 yards, while Chris Hairston added 24 (six). Justin Hardy hauled down a pair of catches for a team-high 16 yards, while Smyre (13 yards), Danny Webster (10) and Hairston (1) each added two receptions.

Carden lead all passers with an 8-of-15, 58-yard performance in five overall possessions.

Following film evaluation of the scrimmage Saturday afternoon, East Carolina will return to Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Sunday at 8:45 a.m. for its 11th workout of the fall.

RUSHING: Marquez Grayson (9-33), Cory Hunter (4-33), Chris Hairston (6-24), Vintavious Cooper (4-1), Kurt Benkert (1-1), Shane Carden (1-<-7>). Totals –– 25-85 (3.4 ypr), 0 TD.

PASSING: Shane Carden (15-8-1, 58 yards, 1 TD), Cody Keith (17-8-0, 47 yards), Kurt Benkert (5-1-0, 12 yards). Totals –– 37-17-1, 117 yards, 1 TD (45.9%).

RECEIVING: Justin Hardy (2-16), Quataye Smyre (2-13), Danny Webster (2-10), Chris Hairston (2-1), DaQuan Barnes (1-17), Zico Pasut (1-12), Cam Worthy (1-12), Vintavious Cooper (1-7), Cory Hunter (1-7), Breon Allen (1-6), Davon Grayson (1-6, 1 TD), Bryce Williams (1-6), Isaiah Jones (1-4). Totals –– 17-117, 1 TD

TACKLES: Michael Dobson 6, Maurice Falls 6 (TFL/-1 yard), Cameron White 4 (PB), Devaris Brunson 3, Domonique Lennon 3, Detric Allen 2 (sack/-7 yards), Zeek Bigger 2 (2 TFL/-2 yards), Mike Myers 2 (TFL/-1 yard), Montese Overton 2 (sack/-7 yards), Dayon Pratt 1, Terrell Stanley 2, Colin Wilson 2, Johnathon White 2, DaShaun Amos 1 (INT/6 yards) Adonis Armstrong 1 (PB), Jeton Beavers 1, DaShawn Benton 1 (PB), Terry Biles 1, Desi Brown 1, Josh Hawkins 1, Ty Holmes 1 (PB), Damon Magazu 1, Terrell Richardson 1 Chrishon Rose 1, Christian Simmons 1, Brandon Williams 1, Terry Williams 1 (TFL/-1 yard).



INTERCEPTIONS: 1 (DaShaun Amos/6-yard return)

THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 5-17 (29.4%) – Shane Carden (3-6), Cody Keith (2-7), Kurt Benkert (0-4)

FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS (when attempted): 0-2 (00.0%) – Cody Keith (0-2)

PENALTIES: 6 (3/OFFENSE – 3 false start; 3/DEFENSE – 1 holding, 1 facemask, 1 offside)

Shane Carden – 7 first downs, 1 TD (downs, downs, interception, TD, downs)
Cody Keith – 4 first downs, 1 FG (FG, downs, downs, downs, downs)
Kurt Benkert – 2 first downs (downs, downs, downs)

SCORING: TDs – 1 (PATs 1-1), FGs –1
Warren Harvey 42-yard FG
Davon Grayson 6-yard pass from Shane Carden (Warren Harvey PAT)