Junior All-America quarterback Vernon Adams showed why he finished second in the voting for last year’s Walter Payton Award, but a four-headed rushing attack matched EWU’s passing numbers in the Eastern Washington University football team’s annual Red-White Game Saturday (April 26) at Roos Field in Cheney, Wash.
Eastern’s offense scored five touchdowns and had a pair of field goals in the 86-play scrimmage, which concluded the third full week of spring practice for the Eagles. Offensive units finished with 443 yards of total offense, including a net of 205 yards on the ground and 238 through the air. However, 59 of the yards lost came as the result of eight quick-whistle quarterback sacks recorded by the defense, as the Eagle had 280 yards in positive rushing yards.
The offense scored on six of its first seven possessions, including a perfect 9-of-9 converting during a fourth-and-one drill. That led to the first two touchdowns of the day.
“I think we came out and executed that fourth-and-one drill better than we ever have,” said Eastern head coach Beau Baldwin. “I thought we were moving the ball very well and then I would say we hit a few lulls. But at times the defense was making some plays. I think in the secondary you saw some guys making plays that maybe wasn’t an awful throw or play. But of course there is stuff to clean up.”
Sophomore Jabari Wilson led the way with 81 yards on just six carries, including the longest play of the scrimmage of 46 yards. Senior Mario Brown added 55 yards and Jalen Moore had 47, with Cody Hecker chipping in 14 on four carries. Wide receiver Shaquille Hill finished with 25 yards on a pair of reverses.
Adams, the reigning Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Year, completed 15-of-26 passes for 149 yards and no interceptions. He had touchdown passes to sophomore wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (5 yards), sophomore tight end Zach Wimberly (1 yard) and Hecker (40 yards), a senior from Sandpoint, Idaho.
Backup quarterback Jordan West completed 6-of-9 passes for 84 yards, including TD passes to junior tight end Terry Jackson II (11 yards) and sophomore wide receiver Aaron Clark (27 yards).
Bourne led all receivers with six catches for 67 yards, and redshirt freshman Roldan Alcobendas made field goals of 26 and 35 yards and all three of his extra point attempts. The offense had four turnovers a week ago, but just one in the Red-White Game.
Defensively, sophomore safety Zach Bruce from Spokane’s University High School had 11 tackles, and sophomore linebacker Albert Havili had nine tackles with a half-sack. Miquiyah Zamora, a sophomore from Pasco, Wash., had six tackles, 1 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble. Six other players had sacks for the Eagle defense.
The Eagles will practice two more times this week before resuming practices in the summer for EWU’s Aug. 23 opener on ESPN against Sam Houston State at Roos Field.
“A lot of times you play this scrimmage and they are done,” said Baldwin. “But we can evaluate this last scrimmage and come back to improve on things on Tuesday and Thursday. So it is still practice -- to me it was just another spring practice with a lot of live team sessions. We get two more practices and then our 15th practice becomes more about team bonding.”
In the first two spring scrimmages, the offense accumulated 824 yards on 131 plays (6.3 per play) and scored 10 touchdowns and a field goal. However, the defense held the offense without a point and to 106 yards in seven scoreless possessions to begin the scrimmage on April 19. In a total of 18 possessions, the defense stopped the offense 12 times with four turnovers.