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Pirates progress in scrimmage

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Reid Herring drops back to pass during East Carolina's football scrimmage on Saturday. March 17, 2018. (Molly Mathis/The Daily Reflector)

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By RONNIE WOODWARD
The Daily Reflector

Saturday, March 17, 2018

This East Carolina football team’s first spring scrimmage Saturday at Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium was defined by situational football and an offense that hit some big plays and was nearly perfect in protecting the ball.

Receiver Trevon Brown and running back Anthony Scott led the way in terms of offensive highlights, and Delvontae Harris had the big defensive play when he snared an interception and returned it for a long touchdown.

The scrimmage tested players mainly because of the fluidity with ball placement on the field to create various downs and distances.

Sophomore first-teamer Reid Herring continued his case to be the team’s starting quarterback in the fall with a performance that head coach Scottie Montgomery said was led by the passer’s accuracy.

Herring was 11-for-18 for 165 yards and freshman Holton Ahlers went 10-of-18 for 97 yards as the top two QBs. They each threw a touchdown with no interceptions.

“The more reps always make you feel more comfortable and it can come easier for me, but I still have to come in and compete because the guys behind me are busting their butts too to get the job,” said Herring, a Raleigh native who is in his third year at ECU. “(The scrimmage) made it feel more game-like and you have to take care of the ball and know what you are doing in different situations because it comes from different types of plays.”

Montgomery continued a spring theme of lauding Brown, a 6-foot-2, 211-pound senior, as a lead playmaker. He had four catches for 70 yards and a TD from Herring, which was backed up by receiver Duce Fuller’s six grabs for 68 yards and a scoring connection with former D.H. Conley High School teammate Ahlers.

“We have some better players who kind of showed up today,” Montgomery said. “Offensively, defensively and with special teams, we still have a long way to go, but they’re pretty excited right now because they are seeing all their hard work — finally after so long — hit the field and be better and be a better football team.”

The top rusher was Scott with 84 yards and a score. Ahlers ran eight times for 48 yards.

Offensive coordinator Tony Petersen said he stressed with all the QBs the importance of decision-making and was pleased overall with the results, noting that the Kingsley Ifedi (5-of-8, 57 yards, TD, INT) interception by Harris was the only blemish that immediately stood out.

“I’m kind of amazed at a guy like Holton who comes in here with 10 practices under his belt and is able to function in our offense,” Petersen said. “He is just a gym rat and he loves it and puts the time in, and it’s paying off for him.”

On the other side of the ball, defensive coordinator David Blackwell is still dealing with a lot of youth and is looking for consistency to go with the bright spots.

“There were some really good things and we have to learn to play a complete game,” he said. “We were strong for spurts and then we would give up some plays and then come back and play really good for a while. The 1s and 2s did some really good things and the offense did some good things, so it was really competitive.”

The annual Purple-Gold spring game is scheduled for next Saturday at 1 p.m.

Contact Ronnie Woodward at rwoodward@reflector.com, 252-329-9592 and follow @RonnieW11 on Twitter.

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