Defense Starts Strong; Offense Rallies Late in Scrimmage

London Pearson (Photo By Rob Hayes)
London Pearson (Photo By Rob Hayes)

The Youngstown State football team held its second scrimmage of more than 100 plays this fall on Saturday morning at Stambaugh Stadium. The defense started strong before the offense found a rythme later in the workout.

On the first series of red-zone situations, the defense set the tone early when Justus Reed intercepted a tipped pass by Nathan Mays. Mays was blitzed by Kyle Hegedus who tipped the ball and Reed hauled it in. During the four red-zone series, London Pearson scored on a two-yard run while Colten McFadden split a pair of field goals.

The offense moved 53 yards in 12 plays on its opening drive to the 17-yard line before the drive stalled. On 4th-and-15 from the 22-yard line following a penalty and two incompletions, the offense had to settle for a field goal. The interior of the line was able to get a hand on McFadden's 39-yard field goal pushing it wide.

After the initial drive, the defense was stout for 10 of the next 11 series. The offense did not have a possession of more than six plays on each of the next 11 series. And the defense held the offense to fewer than 20 yards on nine of them. The biggest play of the scrimmage came from Pearson. On a 2nd-and-8 from the 27-yard line, Pearson took the ball around the left side of the defense and ran 73 yards for a touchdown.

The offense scored touchdowns on two straight possessions once it found it legs.

Mays guided an impressive 10-play, 75-yard drive mixing in a good variety of passing and rushing. Mays completed throws to Miles Joiner, Jermiah Braswell, Kendric Mallory and C.J. Charleston before capping the drive himself scoring on an eight-yard keeper.

Mark Waid came on to engineer a seven-play, 75-yard scoring march on the next series. Randy Smith rushed for 13 yards and picked up a first down on a 3rd-and-1 carry. Waid then found Kyle Gregg for a 19-yard gain before connecting with Jake Cummings for a 30-yard touchdown.

For the scrimmage, Mays was 6-of-17 for 59 yards while Craycraft was 5-of-14 for 67 yards and Waid was 4-of-7 for 70 yards and a touchdown. Mallory and Braswell each caught three passes in the workout. On the ground, Pearson had 15 carries for 134 yards and two touchdowns, Christian Turner added 30 yards on nine carries and Braxton Chapman had 36 yards on 11 attempts.

Defensively, DeMarko Craig, James Jackson, Zaire Jones and Cash Mitchell each had six tackles. Mitchell and Craig led the way with five solo stops. The unit combined for seven pass breakups with freshman Dee Ford leading the way with two. Craig was also credited with a field goal block.

The Penguins open the season on Saturday, August 24 against Samford in Montgomery, Ala.