With four running backs sitting out, it was a chance to shine for freshman redshirt Jalen Moore.
Moore joined several other youthful Eagles in leading the way during Eastern Washington University’s final scrimmage of fall practices on Saturday (Aug. 24) before the Eagles open the season in a week at Oregon State.
The offense, featuring sophomore quarterback Vernon Adams, had another productive outing with 329 yards of offense and three long touchdown drives. But with many of Eastern’s veterans skipping the scrimmage, it was a chance for youth to take over.
“We continued to work the young guys at tight end, running back and receiver because we still have some decisions to make before the Oregon State game,” Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin said.
Moore, who is behind four other running backs on the depth chart, made his case for playing time with 74 yards on 14 carries, including a 34-yard run. Cody Hecker from nearby Sandpoint, Idaho, added 62 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Daniel Johnson, a senior backup receiver, made two impressive catches and finished with 49 yards receiving. Albert Havili and Jake Gall, who are competing to play at linebacker and special teams as true freshmen, had seven and four tackles, respectively. And Jake Hoffman, a 2013 graduate of Spokane’s North Central High School, ended the scrimmage with an interception.
“From a defensive standpoint, I think we have a lot of freshmen who can help us,” said Baldwin. “When they are out there with a couple of veterans around them you are able to see them make plays and fit right in. Today was tough because a lot of the freshmen were out on the field together. But I saw things at camp that made me excited about the depth of our team.”
Adams completed 4-of-7 passes for 83 yards, and led the offense on a pair of 68-yard scoring drives. The first ended with a 20-yard TD pass to Johnson, and the second was a 34-yard strike to true freshman Kendrick Bourne, who led all receivers with three catches for 61 yards. Adams also scored on a 1-yard run in a goal line situation early in the scrimmage.
Backup quarterback Anthony Vitto also led the offense on a 68-yard scoring drive, capped by a 7-yard pass to Zach Wimberly, who was converted in the last three days to tight end from defensive line. Vitto, a senior, finished 3-of-5 for 41 yards, and freshman redshirt Jordan West was 5-of-10 for 60 yards.
“From an offensive standpoint, there were some guys that were learning some new positions in two or three days,” Baldwin said. “One was Ryan Seto, who is playing tight end and as a wide receiver in our sets with motion, and another is Zach Wimberly. A goal offensively was to get those guys some reps, and get a feel for them there.”
Defensive linemen Zackary Johnson and Dylan Zylstra each had five tackles for the defense, as did freshman redshirt linebacker Cedric Gonzalez.
“As a team goal, we wanted to hit two or three more situations on both sides of the ball, and we wanted to hit some more reps at the goal line,” Baldwin added of the situational nature of the early part of the scrimmage. “We felt that was an area we needed more reps, and we did that in the beginning (of the scrimmage). We wanted to get in a four-minute drill which is basically where offense will try to kill the clock and the defense will try to get a stop to get the ball back.”