MOREHEAD – All three phases of the game had their time to shine for the Morehead State University football program during Saturday’s two-hour scrimmage at Jayne Stadium.
The offense generated three touchdowns, while the defense came up with a pair of drive-stopping interceptions and a fumble recovery in the end zone for a score. Special teams’ play was highlighted by a 65-yard punt return for a touchdown by senior receiver Jake Raymond, and both kickers (seniors Pat DiSalvio and Matt Ward) converted lengthy field goals.
“We have a lot of guys, especially young guys, getting a lot of reps, and we have the makings to be a very successful team this year because of our depth,” said MSU Coach Rob Tenyer. “We do need to clean up some areas, and I feel like both sides of the ball need to play with a little more urgency and we’ll be ok. We had a clean scrimmage without a lot of penalties and no injuries, so I was pleased with that.”
Sophomore running back Ryan Watkins got the offense going first with a two-yard rushing score, and sophomore slot receiver Nathan Sames hauled in a 20-yard touchdown pass from senior QB Austin Gahafer later on. Sophomore signal caller Lawson Page scored the third TD on a five-yard scramble.
The offense also turned the ball over several times and had a few bad snaps leading to long-distance conversion situations.
“We are ok on offense, I just think our tempo needs to get better, and we can’t turn it over that many times and expect to win,” Tenyer added.
Defensively, junior cornerback Braylyn Cook and freshman safety Luke Moses, a converted wide receiver, nabbed interceptions. Junior linebacker Evan Yongue scooped up a fumble in the end zone for a score.
“Again, the defense played well today, and just like with the offense, they need to continue to work on executing better and playing with urgency and we can be very good,” Tenyer said.
Raymond, poised to become the all-time leading receiver at Morehead State, took a punt back down the near sideline 65 yards for a touchdown early in the day – helped by some solid blocking by the punt return unit. He also caught a 40-yard pass from Gahafer that led to Watkins’ touchdown opportunity. Ward connected on a 37-yard field goal, and DiSalvio nailed a 41-yarder during live action.
The MSU football team will continue practices this week and next before opening the 2016 campaign on Sept. 3 at James Madison. The home opener is Sept. 10 versus Virginia Military Institute. Tickets are now available at MSUEagles.com/tix.