CHENEY -- When the Eastern Washington football team walked off Roos Field on Friday after its second spring scrimmage, there was a clear victor: the defense.
Defensive back T.J. Lee III helped spark the impressive defensive performance by knocking down two passes and coming up with one of quarterback Anthony Vitto’s three interceptions. The defense broke up seven passes as Vitto and Vernon Adams were a combined 15-of-31 passing for 107 yards.
Linebacker Grant Williams led the defense in tackles for the second straight scrimmage, finishing with seven total tackles, including a half-sack. Linebacker Cody McCarthy, who saw significant action as a true freshman in 2011, was second on the team with five tackles, including a half-sack.
Shaquille Hill, McKenzie Murphy, Jordan Tonani and Andru Pulu had four tackles each.
“I know the defense didn’t feel very good about some missed tackles and some of the things that happened in the first scrimmage,” said head coach Beau Baldwin. “Like I said, whenever one side is a little frustrated, sometimes that’s a good thing because that means that the other side performed pretty well. There was good energy. I was able to go back and forth from sideline to sideline to get a feel where guys were energy-wise.”
Eastern’s offense shook off a shaky start to the 50-play scrimmage with a 22-yard field goal by Kevin Miller on the fourth drive. Shortly after that, receiver Greg Herd took an end-around 25 yards for a touchdown.
However, the defense would clamp down again, leaving the offense without a score for six consecutive possessions. Eventually, Vitto found Nicholas Edwards in for a 25-yard TD strike. On the ensuing drive, Adams found Cory Mitchell in the end zone for a 4-yard score.
“It is hard to say if our slow start was due to struggling offense or good defense,” said Baldwin. “You can’t really count the first two possessions because we stopped our offense after two first downs. But don’t get me wrong -- at the end of the day we have to find a way to get into the end zone more.”
Vitto finished the day 3-of-11 for 45 yards with one touchdown. Adams finished 12-of-20 for 62 yards and a touchdown, and was able to show off his athleticism by rushing five times for 28 yards.
Jordan Talley ran the ball seven times for 26 yards, and also had two receptions for 20 more yards. His 46 all-purpose yards were a team high. Quincy Forte finished with 16 yards on nine carries.
Eastern will scrimmage next Saturday at approximately 10:30am at Roos Field before hosting the Red-White Game on Saturday, April 28 at 2pm.