Quarterbacks and halfbacks take spotlight in football scrimmage

True freshman Talley breaks off a 65-yard touchdown scamper early in scrimmage

Although Eastern Washington University’s first football scrimmage of the fall season wasn’t actually a real game, there were still a lot of positive outcomes head coach Beau Baldwin noticed from his national championship squad on Saturday (Aug. 20) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.

The scrimmage consisted of several situational plays such as red zone opportunities, fourth down scenarios and third-and-long opportunities.

“It was one of those scrimmages where we worked on so many different situations that sometimes it has a little bit of a choppy feel to it,” said Baldwin. “But it is so important to me because I don’t want to lineup and just hope we get into those situations. I want to put the team in those situations and see how we do.”

Both quarterbacks, Bo Levi Mitchell and Anthony Vitto, connected with receivers for scores in Saturday’s scrimmage. Vitto hit Mitchell’s brother, Cory, with a 57- yard bomb, while Mitchell found Nicholas Edwards for a 22-yard strike. Edwards caught seven passes for 73 yards and Cory hauled in two for 94 yards.

Bo Levi was 15 of 24 for 152 yards with one interception, while Vitto was 5 for 8 for 113 yards and a pick as well. Bo Levi was in for the majority of the scrimmage, playing more than 50 percent of the snaps. He had three times as many passing attempts as Vitto.

“(Bo) played a lot today, but probably won’t in the next scrimmage,” said Baldwin. “I wanted to get him a lot of work mainly because I wanted him to experience each of those situations. I wanted him in red zone and in the heavy packages running plays, as well as the two-minute drill.”

Promising freshmen halfbacks, Quincy Forte and Jordan Talley, each impressed in their own rights on the field. Forte finished with 16 yards and a score while Talley ended with 68 yards on seven carries, including a 65-yard touchdown run early in the scrimmage.

“They both made some plays and got into the end zone. I’ve been pleased in how they’ve come along as true freshmen,” said Baldwin.

TJ Lee, one of the young defensive backs up for a starting position, led all players in tackles with eight. He also added a sack to his stat sheet. Two other defensive backs, Allen Brown and Alden Gibbs, each had five tackles, while Brown also picked off one of Mitchell’s throws.

Scott Burgett and Jeff Minnerly, both former quarterbacks who switched over to the safety position, finished with seven tackles apiece. Burgett had one interception.

The Eagle defense kept the quarterbacks pressured all afternoon, tallying six total sacks and five tackles for loss. However, the Eagles were not allowed to follow through on the sacks once they got to the quarterbacks. Baldwin says it’s tough for the players to get used of stopping before they hit the quarterback, but the risk of injury is too high.

“We probably do more hitting the quarterback than most,” said Baldwin. “But right now in camp, I would never risk it. Our guys do a good job getting to the quarterback, so I want to be smart about protecting them at this time of year.”

Halfback Mario Brown and receiver Brandon Kaufman were very limited. Brown had a total of four touches for seven yards and Kaufman didn’t record a reception. Ashton Clark caught three passes for 32 yards and University of Washington transfer Demitrius Bronson had seven carries for 34 yards and a score.

“I think we saw some big plays on both sides of the ball, but also saw some sloppy plays that we have to clean up,” said Baldwin. “It will be great to go back and watch this on film.”

The Eagles will have a second scrimmage next Saturday Aug. 27 at 10:30 a.m. They open their season the following week at UW on Sept. 3.

Scrimmage Statistics

Scoring Plays

Jordan Talley 65-yard run

Anthony Vitto 57-yard pass to Cory Mitchell

Bo Levi Mitchell 22-yard pass to Nicholas Edwards

Demitrius Bronson 1-yard run

Jordan Talley 2-yard run

Quincy Forte 8-yard run

Rushing: Mario Brown 3-2, Demitrius Bronson 7-34, Jordan Talley 7-68, Quincy Forte 6-16, Nicholas Edwards 1-11, Bo Levi Mitchell 1-15, Total 25-146.

Passing: Bo Levi Mitchell 15-24-1 152, Anthony Vitto 5-8-1 113, Totals 20-32-2 265.

Receiving: Cory Mitchell 2-94, Nicholas Edwards 7-73, Ashton Clark 3-32, Zach Gehring 2-17, Greg Herd 1-14, David Miles 1-10, Demitrius Bronson 1-9, Quincy Forte 1-6, Mario Brown 1-5, Jordan Talley 1-minus-1.

Tackles: TJ Lee 8, Scott Burgett 7, Jeff Minnerly 7, Ronnie Hamlin 6, Tyler Washburn 5, Allen Brown 5, Alden Gibbs 5, Cody McCarthy 4, Charles Moetului 4, Grant Williams 3, Ronald Baines 3, Paul Ena 3, Evan Cook 3, Anthony Larry 3, Jeremy Chaten 2, Rusty Haehl 2, Bobby Gentry 2, David Gaylord, Billy Lechtenberg 1, Trenton Pinson 1, JC Agen 1, Dylan Zylstra 1, Ashton Boothroyd 1, Ryan Seto 1.

Interceptions: Allen Brown 1, Scott Burgett 1.

Passes Broken Up: Jeremy Chaten 2, Ronald Baines 1, Alden Gibbs 1, Allen Brown 1.

Sacks: TJ Lee 1, Zach Johnson 1, Paul Ena 1, David Gaylord 1, Charles Moetului 1, Anthony Larry 1.

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