Defense Reigns In First Scrimmage
PEMBROKE – Freshman D.J. Ellerbe picked off a pair of passes and scored the first touchdown of the night for either side when he returned one 55 yards for a score as the UNCP defense turned in a spectacular night in the first preseason scrimmage for the Braves Saturday evening at Grace P. Johnson Stadium.
The 100+-play scrimmage saw some offensive highlights as well, but the white jerseys could muster only field goals until later in the session when three different players scored on rushing touchdowns. A.C. Boykin blocked a field goal in the first half and all-American Caylon Hann turned the miscue into points when he gathered the loose ball and scampered 65 yards down the far sideline.
“The defense has continued to do what they have done from the beginning,” said head coach Pete Shinnick. “They play hard, fly around and make plays. Offensively, we have been mix-and-matching some guys in different situations and trying out different things, but we really hurt ourselves tonight with penalties.”
On the second offensive series of the night, Ellerbe stepped in front of a pass from Matt Evans and breezed into the end zone. A short time later, Boykin leapt in front of a 35-yard field goal attempt by Zach Rowell and Hann picked the ball up, made a pair of nifty moves and used his breakaway speed to race nearly untouched into the same end zone.
A 45- and 35-yard field goal by Taylor Baskett, as well as a 38-yard field goal by Rowell, would give the offense its first highlights of the night until freshman Teland Todd provided the first offensive touchdown of the night on a 6-yard quarterback scramble to the right side. A short time later, Brandon McLaurin galloped around the left side of the line and, despite nearly getting tripped up, raced 50 yards for another offensive touchdown.
Sophomore running back Reggie Scott would cap the scoring on the night when he plunged in from six yards to signify the end of the scrimmage as well.
UNCP will get a much-needed day off on Sunday before resuming field work with a lone 8:35 a.m. session on the practice fields behind Grace P. Johnson Stadium on Monday.
D.J. Ellerbe 50 yd INT return
Caylon Hann 65 yd blocked field goal return
Taylor Baskett 45 yd field goal
Taylor Baskett 35 yd field goal
Zach Rowell 38 yd field goal
Teland Todd 6 yd run
Brandon McLaurin 50 yd run
Reggie Scott 3 yd run