RICHMOND, Ky — The offense did not turn the ball over, and the defense allowed just five touchdowns on 16 possessions in Eastern Kentucky University’s evenly-matched scrimmage on Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.
In the first scrimmage of camp a week ago, the offense scored eight times and the defense created six turnovers.
The Colonels wrapped up preseason camp today. They will return to the practice field on Tuesday at 6 a.m. to prepare for the season opener. Classes at EKU start on Monday. The 2019 season begins on August 29 at Roy Kidd Stadium.
“I thought there was a lot of good football played out on the field,” Head Coach Mark Elder said. “There was just a little bit more sloppiness than I would have liked to have seen. We took care of the football well offensively, which I’m pleased about. There were more deadball penalties than I would have liked to seen. I think that can be attributed to being tired. We’re at the tail end of camp. At the end of camp they should be tired. They’ve been practicing for a while, playing physical football and the guys are worn down. We’ve got a couple of days off coming up for the guys.”
The scrimmage started with six possessions inside the red zone at the 12 yard line. The offense scored touchdowns on four of the six. On the first possession, newcomer Conor Blount connected with Jerome Gross for five yards. Blount then hit Jason Lewis with a shovel pass to score from seven yards out. Blount ran in a two-point conversion himself.
After a defensive penalty moved the ball to the four yard line to start the second possession, redshirt freshman Parker McKinney hooked up with tight end Collin Sanchez for another touchdown. On the fourth possession, freshman running back Quentin Pringle carried for six yards to get it started. On 3rd-and-6, Austin Scott found Jaret Pogliano over the middle in the back of the end zone for six. On the final possession of the series, Ellis Cain carried the ball three straight times. On the first he picked up 11 yards and on the third he finished it off from one yard out.
On the next series of five possessions from the minus-35 yard line, the defense did not allow a single touchdown. On the second, BK Smith picked up a first down across midfield with a 19-yard reception from Dakota Allen. A couple of big passes to Matt Wilcox Jr. allowed McKinney to move the ball to the four yard line on the third possession before the drive stalled. A 15-yard catch by Alonzo Booth out of the back field moved the ball to midfield on the fourth possession, but the offense was ultimately stopped on third down at the 22.
The final series included four possessions from the 50 yard line. McKinney engineered the final touchdown drive. Gross caught a ball for 14 yards. A 3rd-and-5 conversion moved the ball to the 11. Two plays later freshman Tyris Dickerson ran it in from 10 yards out for a touchdown.
“Our ability to be balanced on offense has impressed me,” said Elder. “We can throw the football and we can run the football effectively. We can be good in both categories. We’ve got a veteran group on defense and you can see that. There are more guys that have played ball in the system for a long time period. We have a lot of guys that can play and be very effective for us. I think we are progressing. We still have some progress to make but we’re in a good spot.”
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EKU is ranked 24th in the Preseason HERO Sports Top 25, 25th in the Lindy’s Sports Preseason Top 25 and 26th in the College Sports Madness Top 44. Eastern Kentucky ended the 2018 season with four straight wins and were in the conversation for a playoff spot. The Colonels finished 7-4 overall and third in the OVC with a 5-2 mark.