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Defense trumps offense in Bucs’ first scrimmage

Joe Avento • Aug 12, 2018 at 1:27 AM

JOHNSON CITY — The defense was way ahead of the offense in the East Tennessee State football team’s first intrasquad scrimmage.

The Bucs’ offense took a while to find the end zone as the team went through its first extensive live scrimmage of the preseason Saturday night at Greene Stadium. The defense recorded nine sacks.

Before lightning forced a 30-minute delay less than an hour into the action, the only points the offense could muster came from a 34-yard field goal by kickoff man Landon Kunak.

When the scrimmage resumed, quarterback Austin Herink finally led the team to a touchdown drive and capped it off himself with a nifty 8-yard scramble for a touchdown.

Herink set up the score with the biggest pass play of the night. He dumped off a short pass to Andrew Heyward, who sprinted across the field for a 29- yard gain.

Three plays later, Herink was in the end zone.

The opening field goal came with Logan Marchi at quarterback.

Marchi and Herink, the Bucs’ starter for the past three years, are battling for the No. 1 job and neither seemed to separate himself from the other.

Marchi completed 11 of 25 passes for 87 yards and was sacked five times before the team turned to red-zone drills to end the night. Herink hit 7 of 15 for 111 yards and took three sacks.

Two freshmen from Knoxville teamed to set up the second touchdown. Trey Mitchell bought some time with a nice play fake and fired a bullet to tight end Nate Adkins, who grabbed the ball as he slid out of bounds at the 2. Jalyn Williams, a freshman from Swainsboro, Ga., scored on the next play.

Mitchell went to Knox Central, Adkins to Bearden.

Matt Thompson was an offensive bright spot. The senior running back gained 42 yards on seven carries, including two long runs.

Otherwise, the defense dominated. As usual at this time of year, that’s a good-news, bad-news situation because it came at the expense of its own offense.

Regardless, seeing a pass rush that kept the quarterbacks running for their lives was a good sign for defensive coordinator Billy Taylor.

Jason Maduafokwa, who is up to 270 pounds, looked unblockable on the defensive line. He had 1½ of the sacks and made three tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

The team’s next scrimmage is scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 18 at Greene Stadium.

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