JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – The Blue and Gold flipped the scrimmage script from a week ago, as the team matched-up for a second-straight Saturday at William B. Greene Jr. Stadium.
Where the defense succeeded early on last weekend, the offense started quickly this weekend. Tyler Riddell turned a read option into a 62-yard gain on the first drive of the scrimmage, which was capped off by a five-yard TD pass to Einaj Carter.
After the second-team offense was forced to punt, third-team quarterback Haynes Eller rolled out and hit Bluff City native, Clayton Ivester, for a three-yard strike.
It wasn’t a perfect day, but guys in all facets of the offense believed there was some real progress shown.
“You know, feeling more comfortable,” senior receiver Einaj Carter said. “A lot of new guys, a lot of young guys, so, you know, talking to them a lot. So I feel like trust is a big thing – we’re more comfortable now.”
“I definitely feel like we improved communication-wise,” graduate offensive lineman Zach Teter said. “That’s something where we’ve been striving for this this week, especially getting into pads more is we have to communicate on the line – ‘who’s on who, get off, get off.’ So that was definitely a huge improvement.”
Riddell finished 6-of-12 with 52 yards and a touchdown on the afternoon, while Baron May (56 yds.) and Haynes Eller (86 yds., INT) each completed five passes. Riddell also led the team in rushing, with five carries for 71 yards.
Bryson Irby led the team in carries with nine, picking up 26 yards and scoring a touchdown in the redzone period. Adrian Johnson also put up big numbers – rushing for 29 yards and taking his lone reception 48 yards for a near-touchdown.
Carter led the receivers with three catches for 20 yards and a score, while Will Huzzie finished with two grabs for 25 yards.
After the two early scores from the offense, however, Coach Taylor’s defense locked in and kept the offense off the scoreboard for a number of drives.
Khalil Anderson led the way with five solo tackles and three pass breakups, while defensive back Sheldon Arnold II also chipped in five tackles.
As a unit, the defense accounted for six tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception from Reed Frederick.
“From the first scrimmage, we were kind of lackluster,” redshirt-freshman defensive lineman Jaylen George explained. “Today, we came out with energy every play, honestly, especially going back, looking at film. Everybody wasn’t doing their job. They were kind of doing their own thing. Today, we all locked in and did our job.”
George came up with a sack and two tackles for loss in an inspired performance up front.
“We’re on a little bit of a roller coaster right now,” head coach George Quarles said. “If the offense seem to be hitting their stride, you know, defense is struggling and defense hits their stride, offense starts struggling. You know, some of that’s what you get when you go ones on ones. Some of that is just where we are right now.”
The Blue and Gold will be off on Sunday, as they creep closer to the September 2 season-opener at Jacksonville State (2 p.m.).