ECU defense edges offense in first scrimmage

GREENVILLE, N.C.- A physical defensive unit tallied 13 tackles for lost yardage (seven via sacks) and recorded three interceptions, while 73-yard and 15-yard scoring plays 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 three levels of the program’s positional charts.

“It was good to get into the stadium for the first time in a game type format,” sixth-year head coach Ruffin McNeill said. “It was a controlled scrimmage of sorts as I was setting up plays in my head that I wanted to see. We ran about 50 plays or so with the first two groups and then about 10 more with a makeshift group of twos and threes just to see where everyone is at right now.

“Overall I thought defense did a good job making some plays. I saw Chris (Hairston) break one early, and then got him out of the game. I’ve seen him run for about five years, so I know what he can do. I did the same thing with Zeek (Bigger), Isaiah (Jones) and some other guys.”

Blake Kemp sparked the offense early connecting on five of his first six passes for 40 yards, while engineering a pair of drives that resulted in a touchdown and field goal. Hairston’s 73-yard touchdown run down the left side of the field capped off Kemp’s second drive, while Connor Torruella’s 40-yard field goal closed out the third drive. In all, Kemp completed 9-of-14 throws for 56 yards with an interception and converted a pair of third down plays.

Kurt Benkert completed three of 15 passes for 13 yards with an interception and generated three first downs (one third down conversion) on six drives. John Jacobs (1-for-6, 15 yards, INT) closed out the scoring, connecting with Cedric Thompson in the back of the end zone on a 15-yard strike.

Cam White tallied a team-high six tackles, while Randall Anderson registered two of ECU’s seven sacks on the day. Demage Bailey (TFL), Montese Overton (sack, 2 TFLs) and Terrell Richardson (TFL) each had four stops and combined for five TFLs that resulted in minus six yards. The trio of Bobby Fulp (no return), C.J. Maybin (no return) and Rocco Scarfone (10 yards) each picked off passes, while the defensive unit as a whole limited the offense to just 190 yards of total offense.

“The defense is usually ahead when you go into your first scrimmage,” McNeill added. “Today wasn’t any different. The offense is older and is starting to come around and I think this week you will see them catch up. We started to see a glimpse of that this week and things are coming back for them as a unit. In scrimmages like today, where it’s not a series of plays like in a game, you will see a defense having a lot of three-and-outs and then get off the field. I was proud of the way they played, especially getting three turnovers which helps our offense tremendously. Offensively, we just have to keep getting after it by playing each play, but they’ll catch up and it’s going to be fun to watch.”

Hairston (one carry) led all rushers with 73 yards, while Shawn Furlow added 52 yards on six attempts. Curtis Burston hauled down a pair of catches for a team-high 16 yards, while Trevon Brown (12 yards) and Anthony Scott (one yard) also added two receptions each.

Following film evaluation of the scrimmage Saturday afternoon, East Carolina will return to Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex Sunday at 8:30 a.m. for its 10th workout of the fall.

Camp Notes:

Eleven members of the Pirates’ original 105-man preseason camp roster were sidelined during the first scrimmage because of injuries: OL Des Barmore (concussion), DB DaShawn Benton (right leg), ILB Joe Carter (left leg), OWR Davon Grayson (left hand), RB Marquez Grayson (left leg), QB Cody Keith (right foot), OL Erik Lenzen (right leg), IWR Jacen Murphy (left hand), DB Corey Seargent (right hand), DB Austin Teague (right leg) and TE Bryce Williams (right leg).


RUSHING: Chris Hairston (1-73, 1 TD), Shawn Furlow (6-52), Devin Anderson (3-5), Anthony Scott (5-4), Blake Kemp (1-2), Quay Johnson (1-<-2>), Kurt Benkert (2-<-12>), John Jacobs (5-<-16>). Totals –– 24-106 (4.4 ypr).

PASSING: Blake Kemp (14-9-1, 56 yards), John Jacobs (6-1-1, 15 yards, 1 TD), Kurt Benkert (15-3-1, 13 yards). Totals –– 35-13-3, 84 yards, 1 TD (37.1%).

RECEIVING: Curtis Burston (2-16), Trevon Brown (2-12), Anthony Scott (2-1), Cedric Thompson (1-15, 1 TD), Brandon Bishop (1-15), Deondre Farrier (1-10), Quay Johnson (1-3), Steve Baggett (1-1). Totals –– 13-84, 1 TD

TACKLES: Cam White 6 (PBU), Randall Anderson 5 (2 sacks/-11 yards, 2 TFLs/-11 yards), Demage Bailey 4 (TFL/-1 yard, QBH), Montese Overton 4 (sack/-3 yards, 2 TFLs/-4 yards), Terrell Richardson 4 (TFL/-1 yard), Fred Presley 3 (sack/-4 yards, TFL/-4 yards, QBH), Travon Simmons 3, DaShaun Amos 2 (PBU), Devaris Brunson 2 (TFL/-1 yard, PBU), Pat Green 2, Cole Pickard 2 (sack/-6 yards, TFL/-6 yards), Dayon Pratt 2 (sack/-4 yards, TFL/-4 yards, PBU), Reece Speight 2, Ray Tillman 2,  Johnathon White 2, Jordan Williams 2 (TFL/-3 yards; PBU), Kiante Anderson 1, Josh Hawkins 1, Shaun James 1 (sack/-5 yards, TFL/-5 yards, QBH), Domonique Lennon 1 (blocked FG), C.J. Maybin 1 (INT/0 yards), Anthony Orr 1 (TFL/-1 yard), Xavier Smith 1, Terrell Stanley 1, Drew Turnage 1, Yiannis Bowden (PBU), Bobby Fulp (INT/0 yards; PBU), Rocco Scarfone (INT/10 yards), Darius Wright (PBU).




THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 5-16 (31.3%) – Blake Kemp (2-5), John Jacobs (2-4), Kurt Benkert (1-7)

FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS (when attempted): 0-3 – Kurt Benkert (0-2), Blake Kemp (0-1)

PENALTIES: 8 (3/OFFENSE – 2 holding, 1 false start; 5/DEFENSE – 2 offside, 1 facemask, 1 holding, 1 pass interference)


Blake Kemp – 4 first downs (downs, TD, FG, downs, interception)

Kurt Benkert – 3 first downs (downs, interception, downs, downs, missed FG, downs)

John Jacobs – 3 first downs (downs, downs, interception, TD)

SCORING: TD – 2 (PATs 1-1), FG – 1

Chris Hairston 73-yard run (Connor Torruella PAT)

Connor Torruella 40-yard field goal

Cedric Thompson 15-yard pass from John Jacobs (no PAT attempted)

Malcolm W. Gray

Director Athletic Media Relations


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