GREENVILLE, N.C. – Running back Cory Hunter’s two-yard touchdown run, outside receiver Isaiah Jones’ and inside receiver Jimmy Williams’ scoring catches were notable plays in East Carolina’s second, and final, scrimmage of preseason camp Saturday morning at Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.
Originally scheduled to be held inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, fourth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill elected to move the contest to the artificial turf of the practice facility as a precautionary measure because of the forecast of inclement weather.
The Pirate offense benefited from the intermediate pass, contributing seven gains of 10-plus yards, while the defense registered four tackles for lost yardage, forced a fumble and surrendered just two third-down conversions during the abbreviated 41-play contest.
“I thought there were some positive things that happened on both sides of the ball,” McNeill said. “There will be some things that the coaches will be disappointed with, but that’s what we want because they are searching for perfection.”
After opening the scrimmage by completing his first seven passes, Shane Carden finished 9-of-12 for 106 yards and a touchdown. Carden marched the Pirate offense down the field during his first possession on a nine-play 75-yard drive where he connected on all six pass attempts for 70 yards. Hunter, who led all rushers with 35 yards, capped off the series with a two-yard score.
Carden engineered another scoring drive, this time finishing off a 10-play 70-yard series by connecting with Jones on a 15-yard route over the middle for the second touchdown of the game.
Kurt Benkert hit on four-of-five passes for 62 yards, which included a 14-yard TD strike to Williams on his second possession of the morning. Cody Keith connected on six-of-nine tosses for 37 yards in three series.
Bryce Williams led all pass catchers with four receptions for 43 yards. Jones added three receptions for 30 yards and a score, while Jimmy Williams (24 yards) and Reese Wiggins (22) each hauled down a pair. A total of 12 players were credited with at least one catch during action, including DaQuan Barnes who made his only reception count for 30 yards.
Jeremy Grove and Cameron White topped all defenders with four tackles, while Reece Speight tallied three stops and was credited with the lone sack in the contest during the third possession. Kyle Tudor (three tackles) forced a fumble, jarring the ball loose after Zico Pasut’s eight-yard grab with Damon Magazu (three stops) jumping on the football.
To go along with Hunter’s team-high 35 ground yards, Marquez Grayson added 18 on three rushes, while Chris Hairston (10 yards) and Vintavious Cooper (five) each carried the ball twice.
ECU’s special teams unit also contributed as Warren Harvey (2 PATs) and Davis Plowman (PAT) connected on all three extra point attempts.
“We had a couple of penalties on both sides of the ball today that we have to correct,” McNeill explained. “That is uncharacteristic of this team and how they have been performing in camp. So we will address those things pretty quickly. Overall, I was pleased with the execution and the substitutions on both sides of the ball from package to package.”
Although it averaged 6.6 yards per play during the officiated scrimmage, the Pirate offense was also knocked back four times on a pair of holding and false start penalties, and suffered a loss of six yards on an errant snap.
The Pirates will take Sunday off before returning to the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Monday morning for their final day of preseason camp before classes start on the ECU campus Tuesday morning.
FALL SCRIMMAGE NO. 2 STATISTICS
RUSHING: Cory Hunter (5-35, 1 TD), Marquez Grayson (3-18), Chris Hairston (2-10), Vintavious Cooper (2-5), John Barnes-Smith (1-5), Kurt Benkert (1-<-2>), Quataye Smyre (1-<-6>). Totals –– 15-65 (4.3 ypr), 1 TD.
PASSING: Shane Carden (12-9-0, 106 yards, 1 TD), Kurt Benkert (5-4-0, 62 yards, 1 TD), Cody Keith (9-6-0, 37 yards). Totals –– 26-19-1, 205 yards, 2 TD (73.1%).
RECEIVING: Bryce Williams (4-43), Isaiah Jones (3-30, 1 TD), Jimmy Williams (2-24, 1 TD), Reese Wiggins (2-22), DaQuan Barnes (1-30), Cam Worthy (1-17), Quataye Smyre (1-12), Justin Hardy (1-10), Zico Pasut (1-8), John Barnes-Smith (1-8), Davon Grayson (1-6), Chris Hairston (1-<-5>). Totals –– 19-205, 2 TD
TACKLES: Jeremy Grove 4, Cameron White 4, Damon Magazu 3 (FR), Christian Simmons 3, Reese Speight 3 (sack/-2 yards, TFL/-2 yards), Chip Thompson 3, Kyle Tudor 3 (FF), Devaris Brunson 2, Montese Overton 2, Lee Pegues 2 (TFL/-2 yards), Frederick Presley 2 (TFL/-6 yards), Detric Allen 1, DaShaun Amos 1, Michael Dobson 1, Maurice Falls 1 (TFL/-5 yards), Jake Geary 1, Lamar Ivey 1, Nate Mays 1, Travis Phillips 1, Dayon Pratt 1, Johnathon White 1, Brandon Williams 1 (PB), Terry Williams 1, Gabe Woullard 1, Mike Myers (PB), TEAM (TFL/-6 yards – errant snap).
TOTAL OFFENSE/TOTAL DEFENSE: 41-270 (6.6 ypp)
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 2-7 (28.6%) – Shane Carden (2-2), Cody Keith (0-3), Kurt Benkert (0-2)
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS (when attempted): 0-0
PENALTIES: 7 (4/OFFENSE – 2 holding, 2 false start; 3/DEFENSE – 2 offside, 1 holding)
QUARTERBACK FIRST DOWN/SCORING CHART (DRIVES):
Shane Carden – 9 first downs, 2 TD (TD, TD)
Kurt Benkert – 6 first downs, 1 TD (downs, TD)
Cody Keith – 2 first downs (downs, downs, fumble)
SCORING: TDs – 3 (PATs 3-3)
Cory Hunter 2-yard run (Warren Harvey PAT)
Isaiah Jones 15-yard pass from Shane Carden (Warren Harvey PAT)
Jimmy Williams 14-yard pass from Kurt Benkert (Davis Plowman PAT)