GREENVILLE, N.C. - Eaat Carolina scored three times in their second scrimmage of the fall camp on Saturday at Hight Field inside the Cliff Moore Practice Complex.
The scrimmage was originally scheduled to be played in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium but the team decided to move the contest to the Field Turf practice field with rain falling earlier in the morning and more rain on the way.
The weather held off long enough to complete the nearly 50 snap contest in what was the team's last official scrimmage before an August 31st season opener against Old Dominion in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Cory Hunter, who led all rushers with 35 yards, scored on a two-yard touchdown in a nine play 75 yard drive in which Carden completed six passes in a row for 70 yards.
"We're focusing on the little things," Hunter said, "Some things from last scrimmage were corrected this week. Better offensive tempo. Overall the offense did much better."
The Pirates scored twice through the air as
quarterback Shane Carden hit Isaiah Jones on a 15 yard post pattern to cap off a 10 play, 70 yard drive for the second score.
Carden finished 9-of-12 for 106 yards
Kurt Benkert, who hit on 4 of 5 for 62 yards, tossed a 14-yard TD dart to Jimmy Williams on a slant pattern from the left side in the redzone on his second possession of the morning after a slow start while Carden's backup, Cody Keith connected on 6 of 9 pass attempts for 37 yards in the three series that he participated.
"I thought there were some positive things that happened on both sides of the ball. There will be some things that the coaches will be disappointed with," said McNeill, "but that's what we want because they are searching for perfection."
Rick Smith's ECU defense registered four tackles for lost yardage and forced a fumble from inside receiver Zico Pasut while surrendering just two third-down conversions in the 41-play scrimmage.
Smith said the defense wasn't really mentally into it as much as he would like on Saturday but says he will have them ready for ODU on the 31st in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium.
Smith sounded disappointed with the overally result of his defense on Saturday.
"I can't crawl into a player's head and make and get him to play. They left practice yesterday and didn't think about football on defense and it showed today. Am I the cheerleader or am I the defensive coordinator" Smith said, "They have to get themselves ready to play. We had mental mistakes today. We had one play on a bubble screen where four guys missed the ball carrier so we've got to tackle better."
Jeremy Grove and Cameron White led all defenders with four stops each, while Reece Speight tallied three tackles including the lone official sack in the contest during the third possession. There was one other tackle that could have been a sack but the whistle wasn't blown to stop the play in the backfield. Kyle Tudor had three tackles and forced a fumble, jarring the ball loose after Zico Pasut's eight-yard catch while Damon Magazu who had three tackles, recovered the fumble.
Marquez Grayson has looked solid the whole camp. He ran for 18 yards on three rushes, while Chris Hairston rushed for 10 yards and Vintavious Cooper carried for five yards as each carried the ball twice in the scrimmage.
Lincoln Riley's Pirate offense generated seven plays of over 10 yards, mostly on intermediate passes. Riley said they had a great week of practice and played more like they expect to play after only scoring once in last week's first scrimmage. He talked about his backup quarterbacks having solid days and had high praise for newcomer Cory Hunter at running back.
"Cody is the clear cut backup, but the guys around him didn't play as well. No question about Cody at backup QB," said Riley, "And you can see the light coming on for Kurt. He's Not like a typical freshman. We dropped too many balls today. Carden scored with both groups. Kurt was shaky at first and strong at the end. Cory Hunter is dependable and should play a lot. His teammates trust him to be in the right place at the right time. I wish we had a bunch of Cory Hunters."
Bryce Williams led with four catches for 43 yards. Jones caught three including a touchdown while Reese Wiggins moved the chains for 22 yards and Jimmy Williams gained 24 yards in their two catches respectively. DaQuan Barnes got into the act on a 30 yard catch in his only catch of the day.
Lou Groza candidate Warren Harvey hit two PATs and along with backup Davis Plowman connected on all three extra point attempts
"We had a couple of penalties on both sides of the ball today that we have to correct," McNeill explained. "That is uncharacteristic of this team and how they have been performing in camp. So we will address those things pretty quickly. Overall, I was pleased with the execution and the substitutions on both sides of the ball from package to package."
The ECU offense averaged 6.6 yards per snap while losing 6 yards on a bad snap and being penalized four times on a pair of holding and false starts.
The Pirates will skip Sunday before returning practice on Monday morning for their final day of preseason camp before classes start Tuesday morning.
Second Scrimmage Stats courtesy of ECU:
RUSHING: Cory Hunter (5-35, 1 TD), Marquez Grayson (3-18), Chris Hairston (2-10), Vintavious Cooper (2-5), John Barnes-Smith (1-5), Kurt Benkert (1-), Quataye Smyre (1-). Totals -- 15-65 (4.3 ypr), 1 TD.
PASSING: Shane Carden (12-9-0, 106 yards, 1 TD), Kurt Benkert (5-4-0, 62 yards, 1 TD), Cody Keith (9-6-0, 37 yards). Totals -- 26-19-1, 205 yards, 2 TD (73.1%).
RECEIVING: Bryce Williams (4-43), Isaiah Jones (3-30, 1 TD), Jimmy Williams (2-24, 1 TD), Reese Wiggins (2-22), DaQuan Barnes (1-30), Cam Worthy (1-17), Quataye Smyre (1-12), Justin Hardy (1-10), Zico Pasut (1-8), John Barnes-Smith (1-8), Davon Grayson (1-6), Chris Hairston (1-). Totals -- 19-205, 2 TD
TACKLES: Jeremy Grove 4, Cameron White 4, Damon Magazu 3 (FR), Christian Simmons 3, Reese Speight 3 (sack/-2 yards, TFL/-2 yards), Chip Thompson 3, Kyle Tudor 3 (FF), Devaris Brunson 2, Montese Overton 2, Lee Pegues 2 (TFL/-2 yards), Frederick Presley 2 (TFL/-6 yards), Detric Allen 1, DaShaun Amos 1, Michael Dobson 1, Maurice Falls 1 (TFL/-5 yards), Jake Geary 1, Lamar Ivey 1, Nate Mays 1, Travis Phillips 1, Dayon Pratt 1, Johnathon White 1, Brandon Williams 1 (PB), Terry Williams 1, Gabe Woullard 1, Mike Myers (PB), TEAM (TFL/-6 yards - errant snap).
TOTAL OFFENSE/TOTAL DEFENSE: 41-270 (6.6 ypp)
THIRD DOWN CONVERSIONS: 2-7 (28.6%) - Shane Carden (2-2), Cody Keith (0-3), Kurt Benkert (0-2)
FOURTH DOWN CONVERSIONS (when attempted): 0-0
PENALTIES: 7 (4/OFFENSE - 2 holding, 2 false start; 3/DEFENSE - 2 offside, 1 holding)
QUARTERBACK FIRST DOWN/SCORING CHART (DRIVES):
Shane Carden - 9 first downs, 2 TD (TD, TD)
Kurt Benkert - 6 first downs, 1 TD (downs, TD)
Cody Keith - 2 first downs (downs, downs, fumble)
SCORING: TDs - 3 (PATs 3-3)
Cory Hunter 2-yard run (Warren Harvey PAT)
Isaiah Jones 15-yard pass from Shane Carden (Warren Harvey PAT)
Jimmy Williams 14-yard pass from Kurt Benkert (Davis Plowman PAT)