GREENVILLE, N.C. - East Carolina quarterbacks Gardner Minshew and Reid Herring each engineered a pair of touchdown marches and one field goal drive, while receiver Quay Johnson cracked triple-digits with seven catches for 105 yards as the Pirates concluded spring practice Saturday with their annual Purple-Gold game on Bagwell Field inside Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
While the contest was primarily and offense-versus-defense scrimmage, Minshew (Purple) and Herring (Gold) produced a 17-17 deadlock and generated a combined 403 passing yards. In addition, the Pirate offense racked up 20 or more yards on eight separate snaps, including a scrimmage-long 40-yard pass play from Herring to Tahj Deans.
The Pirate defense recorded numerous highlights as well, recording a pair of takeaways and forcing plenty of pressure with 12 tackles for lost yardage, which included four sacks.
“In general, I thought they (quarterbacks) did a really good job throughout spring of understanding our system," second-year head coach Scottie Montgomery said. "I really think that our team did a whole completely different job of understanding our system this spring. The way that we go to class, the way we work in the weight room, everything. I think the system is in place now and we are headed in the right direction."
Minshew completed 21-of-36 passes for 265 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Herring was 13-of-17 for 138 yards and a score.
Hussein Howe led the rushing attack with 92 yards on a game-high 10 carries, but Derrell Scott accounted for the lone ground score when he picked up 27 of his 51 yards to stake the Gold to a 14-0 edge early in the first half.
Johnson was among seven pass catchers who caught multiple receptions, joining Deans (5-98), Davon Grayson (5-53), Jimmy Williams (4-71), Deondre Farrier (4-23), Malik Gray (4-18) and Anthony Scott (2-10). Johnson (18-yarder) and Williams (36) each hauled in TD throws from Minshew, while Gray was on the receiving end of a two-yard scoring toss from Herring.
Defensively, cornerbacks Colby Gore and Keyshawn Canady led all tacklers with eight and seven hits, respectively. Up front, tackles Justin Brown (3) and Raequan Purvis (2) combined on five TLFs and a trio of sacks. Cornerback Corey Seargent (interception) and tackle Jalen Price (fumble recovery) accounted for both takeaways.
"I thought that defensively up front, for the first time since I’ve been here, I saw true pressure applied to the quarterback and that made me happy," Montgomery said. "I thought we missed a few down-the-field shots in our passing game that we could have had, but then again, I thought some of our DBs were a lot closer than they had been throughout spring."
East Carolina also got a perfect performance from both its placekickers as Jake Verity drilled a 42-yard field goal and knocked through both extra point tries. Caleb Pratt converted a 32-yard three-pointer and was two-of-two in PATs.
East Carolina opens its 2017 season against James Madison at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium on Sept. 2.
Eight players were recognized for their efforts during spring drills during a halftime ceremony: Offensive MVP ("On The Ship") - Jimmy Williams; Defensive MVP ("On The Ship") - Aaron Ramseur; Special Teams MVP ("On The Ship") - Jake Verity; Most Improved Offensive Player - Brandon Smith; Most Improved Defensive Player - Chandon Hickerson; Offensive "Respect The Ball" Award - Gardner Minshew; Defensive "Respect The Ball" Award - Travis Phillips; Community Service Award - Jimmy Williams.
2017 PURPLE-GOLD GAME STATISTICS
RUSHING: Hussein Howe (10-92), Derrell Scott (5-51, 1 TD), Devin Anderson (8-40), Nate Harvey (3-19), Anthony Scott (8-16), Kingsley Ifedi (4-16), Deondre Farrier (1-<-5>), Gardner Minshew (2-<-10>), Reid Herring (3-<-17>). Totals –– 44-202 (4.6 ypr), 1 TD.
PASSING: Gardner Minshew (36-21-1, 265 yards, 2 TD), Reid Herring (17-13-0, 138, 1 TD), Kingsley Ifedi (2-1-0, 2). Totals ––55-35-1, 405 yards, 3 TD.
RECEIVING: Quay Johnson (7-105, 1 TD), Tahj Deans (5-98), Jimmy Williams (4-71, 1 TD), Davon Grayson (5-53), Deondre Farrier (4-23); Malik Gray (4-18, 1 TD), Derrell Scott (1-17), Anthony Scott (2-10), Cam Marshmon (1-5), Stephen Baggett (1-3), Jayden Borders (1-2). Totals –– 35-405, 3 TD
TACKLES: Colby Gore 8, Keyshawn Canady 7 (1 TFL/-2), Cannon Gibbs 7, Jordan Williams 6 (1 TFL/-5), Ray Tillman 6, Raequan Purvis 6 (2 TFL/-7, 1 Sack), Xavier Smith 5, Travis Phillips 5, Jalen Price 5 (2 TFL/-9, FR), Bobby Fulp 4, Tony Baird 4, Kendall Futrell 4 (2 TFL/-5, 1 Sack), Demage Bailey 4, Austin Teague 3 (1 PD), Marcus Holton Jr. 3, Chance Purvis 3, Aaron Ramseur 3, Taijh Alston 3 (1 TFL/-7), Justin Brown 3 (3 TFL/-5, 2 Sacks), Travon Simmons 2, Yiannis Bowden 2, Chandon Hickerson 2, Randall Anderson 2, Corey Seargent 1 (1 INT), Kenyon Taylor 1, Shaun James 1, Mike Myers 1, Bennett Boateng 1
PUNTING: Jake Verity (6-218 – 36.3 ypp)
TOTAL OFFENSE/TOTAL DEFENSE: 99-607 (6.1 ypp)
INTERCEPTIONS: 1 (Corey Seargent/no return)
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 8-19 (42.1%) – Gardner Minshew (6-10), Reid Herring (2-7), Kingsley Ifedi (0-2)
PENALTIES: 4 (2/OFFENSE – 1 holding, 1 false start; 2/DEFENSE – 1 personal foul, 1 offside)
QUARTERBACK FIRST DOWN/SCORING CHART (DRIVES):
Gardner Minshew – 19 first downs, 2 TD, 1 FG (TO, P, TO, P, TD, TD, FG)
Reid Herring – 9 first downs, 2 TD, 1 FG (TD, TD, P, P, P, FG, P)
Kingsley Ifedi – 2 first downs (downs)
TD – 4; FG – 2
GOLD – Malik Gray 2-yard pass from Reid Herring (Jake Verity kick) – 7-0
GOLD – Derrell Scott 27-yard run (Caleb Pratt kick) – 14-0
PURPLE – Jimmy Williams 36-yard pass from Gardner Minshew (Verity kick) – 14-7
PURPLE – Quay Johnson 18-yard pass from Minshew (Pratt kick) – 14-14
GOLD – Verity 42-yard field goal – 17-14
PURPLE – Pratt 32-yard field goal – 17-17