April 18, 2013 | Vol. 116 -- No. 52

Eagles show off ground game in first spring scrimmage

Mario Brown is EWU’s leading rusher in return to lineup

The calendar said April.

Paul Delaney
Shaquille Hill (9) gains ground after a catch during last Saturday’s first spring scrimmage.

The weather and some of the play on the field was a bit more like November.

That was a quick snapshot from last Saturday’s 45-play scrimmage at blustery, cold – and sometimes snowy – Roos Field. It was the first time coaches and players have gotten to test themselves in something other than drills during Eastern Washington University’s spring football practice.

They’ll go at it this Saturday with another scrimmage following a 10:30 a.m. start to practice. The annual Red-White Scrimmage will take place April 27 at 2 p.m.

“I thought the players turned it on considering the heavy wind and a little snow,” head coach Beau Baldwin said. “They did not just try and get through it.”

The morning saw the return of junior running back Mario Brown who ran for 44 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a welcome reemergence of EWU’s ground game. Brown redshirted in 2012.

“I am excited for Mario coming back, and I am excited for the backs as a whole,” Baldwin said. “There is some new stuff for the backs too. They are getting used to seeing things, where things hit, and how things are run with certain terminology.”

The No. 1 defensive unit also made a statement by stopping their counterparts across the line of scrimmage in emphatic fashion with Dylan Zylstra swatting down a Vernon Adams’ pass in an early series.

After two-and-outs on his first two possessions, 2012 Freshman All-American Adams directed the offense on a six-play, 65-yard scoring drive to conclude the scrimmage. He completed a pair of passes to Cory Mitchell for 44 yards on the drive, and 3 yards to tight end Cody Humphrey for the touchdown.

Earlier, backup quarterback Anthony Vitto led a 10-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 1-yard scoring run by Brown, and redshirt freshman Jordan West directed a 12-play, 65-yard drive that ended with a 2-yard score by Brown. The three quarterbacks combined to complete 12-of-22 passes for 126 yards and no interceptions.

“We were able to get (Vernon) in a rhythm with that score on the third series,” Baldwin said. “I am very pleased with his progress.”

Senior wide receivers Ashton Clark and Daniel Johnson each caught three passes for a combined 61 yards.

Defensively, redshirt freshman Miquiyah Zamora led the way with seven tackles. “I thought the defense had a couple key stops, especially some of the older guys,” Baldwin said. “They were the ones and some of the twos.”

Paul Delaney can be reached at pdelaney@cheneyfreepress.com.

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