Starters Rest as Defense Shines in Final Eastern Scrimmage
Eastern defense scores on one of three interceptions it recorded and holds offensive units to 202 yards
The defense ruled the day on pretty much a starter-less day as Eastern Washington University had a short 37-play session in the school’s second and final football scrimmage of preseason camp Wednesday (Aug. 25) at the EWU Sports and Recreation Center playing fields in Cheney, Wash. Eastern’s next practice -- Friday (Aug. 27) at 3 p.m. -- will take place on the new red Sprinturf surface at soon to be re-named Woodward Field in Cheney, Wash.
Freshman redshirt defensive end Anthony Larry scored on a 33-yard interception return for a touchdown as the defense held offensive units to 202 yards (5.5 per play). Only a handful of starters played as Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin didn’t want to risk injuries with the team’s season-opener at Nevada on Sept. 2 just a week away.
“We’ve had a really good camp and we’ve worked hard,” explained Baldwin. “We wanted to make sure we have guys healthy and with their legs back going into game week. And we’ve done a lot of live drills in practice, so our starters on both sides of the ball -- and definitely the offense -- have played in a lot of live situations in practice already. So the scrimmage itself was a time where we are looking for those last three or four travel spots.”
Also recording interceptions for the defense were free safety Jeff Minnerly and cornerback Jeremy Chaten, with defensive ends David Gaylord and Jakob Scott each recording sacks. Cornerback Ronald Baines broke-up a pair of passes, and Scott and linebacker J.C. Agen each had one. Defensive tackle Charles Moetului led all tacklers with six.
“The young defensive players definitely got the better of the offense,” Baldwin said. “There are definitely some areas our young guys have to improve on.”
Freshman redshirt quarterback Anthony Vitto completed 10-of-20 passes for 98 yards and had a 7-yard touchdown pass to Alante Wright. Vitto also had a 1-yard run to cap a nine-play, 60-yard touchdown drive, but up to that point the offensive units had just one first down and two interceptions in the first seven possessions of the afternoon.
Junior redshirt Nick Gauthier, who is listed with Vitto as the backup behind starter Bo Levi Mitchell, was 6-of-11 for 60 yards and a pair of interceptions. Gauthier directed an eight-play, 65-yard scoring drive late in the scrimmage, hitting sophomore Greg Herd for a 25-yard touchdown.
“We had our moments where things weren’t going right, but they were both able to come back and respond. They made some plays and directed touchdown drives. You never know when your number is going to be called and you have to be ready for that.”
Herd led all receivers with five catches for 68 yards and Wright had a pair for 30 yards. True freshman Mario Brown was the leading rusher with 44 yards on eight carries, giving him 86 yards on 21 carries in two fall scrimmages. He is expected to play this season and not redshirt.
“We’ve watched Greg Herd get better and better the entire camp,” praised Baldwin. “He’s going to be a huge part of our offense -- you could see that going back to last spring. The other player to catch my eye was Mario Brown. It’s good to see him run hard and keep his pads down -- it’s a hard transition from high school running back to college running back.”
After the Nevada game, Eastern plays Central Washington at Qwest Field in Seattle on Sept. 11. On Sept. 18, the Eagles will open their Big Sky Conference schedule on the new red turf at soon to be renamed Roos Field (formerly Woodward Field) against rival Montana.
Anthony Larry 33 interception return (Mike Jarrett kick)
Anthony Vitto 1 run (Jarrett kick)
Greg Herd 25 pass from Nick Gauthier (Jarrett kick)
Alante Wright 7 pass from Vitto (Jarrett kick)
Rushing: Mario Brown 8-44, Chase King 5-19, Darriell Beaumonte 1-7, Anthony Vitto 3-minus-4, Scott Burgett 1-minus-5, Nick Gauthier 2-minus-8, Trenton Pinson 2-minus-9, Totals 22-44.
Passing: Anthony Vitto 10-20-98-0int, Nick Gauthier 6-11-60-2int, Scott Burgett 0-4-1int, Totals 16-35-158-3int.
Receiving: Greg Herd 5-68, Chase King 3-10, Alante Wright 2-30, Ashton Clark 2-18, Jason Harris 1-13, Mario Brown 1-9, Ryan Seto 1-8, Trenton Pinson 1-2, Totals 16-158.
Interceptions: Anthony Larry, Jeff Minnerly, Jeremy Chaten, Total 3.
Passes Broken Up: Ronald Baines 2, Jakob Scott, J.C. Agen, Total 4.
Sacks: David Gaylord, Jakob Scott, Total 2.
Leading Tacklers: Charles Moetului 6, John Roberts 4, Bo Schuetzle 3, Bobby Gentry 3, Tyler Washburn 3.