CHENEY, Wash. - There were plenty of Eagles to share to load at Eastern Washington University's football scrimmage Saturday (Aug. 9) at Roos Field, as well as lots of autographs for fans.
A large crowd showed up at the unveiling of Eastern's 2014 schedule poster, and they were rewarded with 409 yards of offense by the Eagles and touchdowns scored by eight different players in the 75-play scrimmage to wrap-up the first full week of preseason practices.
Ranked this past week as the No. 1 team in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, many starters sat the scrimmage out, but that didn't limit the number of big plays or the enthusiasm of head coach Beau Baldwin. His team will resume practices Monday in preparation for their opener on ESPN against Sam Houston State on Aug. 23, and will also scrimmage next Saturday (Aug. 16) at approximately 9:50 a.m. at Roos Field.
"There were plays being made by both the offense and defense," he said. "The tempo offense we used is going to help us on both sides of the ball, and we need to carry that over into this week's practices."
"I thank Eagle fans and everybody involved with setting up a game-day atmosphere at a scrimmage," he said of the crowd and the post-scrimmage autograph session involving his entire team. "Our players appreciate it -- it gives you a boost and a jolt. As a coach and a player, it makes you want to put a great product on the field for them to see."
Four running backs combined for 177 of the 208 yards the Eagles rushed for, led by the 69 of sophomore Jabari Wilson. That quartet averaged 6.8 yards per carry, with all of them having at least one run of 15 yards or more.
"We have four or five players we can rely on, and that's a great problem to have," said Baldwin. "That's tough sometimes for those players in that running back group – they all want to be the starter and they all have the ability to potentially get a lot of carries. But it keeps the competition alive and keeps us fresh at that position no matter where we are in the season. We feel very confident with all those players that they will get the job done."
Walter Payton Award candidate and All-America quarterback Vernon Adams Jr. passed for 103 yards and three touchdowns in the mostly-situational scrimmage. Five Eastern quarterbacks combined to complete 21-of-33 passes for 201 yards.
Sophomore Kendrick Bourne led all receivers with five catches for 59 yards and a TD from Adams, who also had scoring tosses to Nic Sblendorio and Terence Grady. Jordan West had a TD pass to Terry Jackson II, and former Camas (Wash.) High School teammates Reilly Hennessey and Zach Eagle hooked-up for a 27-yard score late in the scrimmage.
Defensively, true freshman Alek Kacmarcik picked up an errant pitch and returned it 55 yards for a score, and true freshman Marcus Saugen from Spokane's North Central High School paced all tacklers with seven. Cornerback Rashad Wadood, a transfer from Arizona State, had a pair of passes broken up and a tackle.