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EWU secondary steps up at scrimmage

Saturday’s Eastern Washington scrimmage had a little of everything: a fired-up defense, efficient offense, and a feeling that the young Eagles cornerbacks are starting to, well, turn the corner.

And while it gave up 523 yards, the Eastern defense also finished with seven quick-whistle sacks and nine passes broken up on a picture-perfect day at Roos Field.

“It was good to see both sides coming out doing things,” head football coach Beau Baldwin said of the 84-play scrimmage.

“It got a little sloppy in the middle of it, but when all was said and done, there was energy.”

Early on, that energy was harnessed mostly by a defense that felt it had something to prove after being dominated a week earlier. All-American quarterback Vernon Adams was intercepted three times, the first on a well-timed leap on the sideline by cornerback Victor Gamboa against wideout Kendrick Bourne.

“I saw Vernon roll out, Kendrick looked like he was going to run a post, then he turned back and I jumped up and made the pick,” said Gamboa, a freshman from Tacoma who is competing for a starting spot.

Moments later, defensive tackle Matthew Sommer found the ball in his hands, returning it for a score. Later, safety Zach Bruce made a perfect read on a deep throw by Adams for another pick.

The offense regrouped, thanks mainly to backup quarterbacks Jordan West and Conner Richardson. Midway through the scrimmage, West found Cooper Kupp for a 20-yard completion.

Kupp did the rest, shaking off cornerback D’londo Tucker and going 97 yards for the score.

Moments later, Richardson ran 33 yards for a score on a check-off at the line of scrimmage.

Adams finished 17 of 26 for 170 yards with two touchdown passes to Blair Bomber, but also was ruled to be sacked on several rollouts.

“That’s just unacceptable,” said Adams, who a week earlier was 10 for 12 for 139 yards and no picks. “I should be taking the easy (passes) and not getting greedy.

“And I’m getting frustrated, so I have to keep my emotions in check and stay positive,” said Adams, who credited the defense for fooling him by bluffing its coverages.

West was 7 for 16 for 154 yards, and Richardson was 6 for 9 for 91 yards.

On the ground, the defense gave up just 108 yards on 32 plays, but did concede a 27-yard score on a reverse by Shaquille Hill. That was one of three red- zone drills that started on the defense’s 27-yard line.

“It felt like I was getting in some tough situations, and I look forward to getting more of that in the spring game,” said freshman linebacker Jake Gall, who finished with a game-high eight tackles and kept the offense out of the end zone on 12 of its 18 possessions, three of those coming in red-zone drills.

“You are going to have games like that,” Baldwin said. “No matter how good you think you are on offense or how good you think you are on defense, get ready for a game where could be 17-14 or it could be 49-48 – they all happen.

“You just have to be ready and prepared to find ways to rebound if things aren’t going the way you expected or like, and I feel both sides have shown the ability to do that through the spring football.”


After the scrimmage, Baldwin said the Red-White Game will be similar in structure, with first-team offenses and defenses facing each other, and likewise the second and third units. … The Eagles resume practice at 4 p.m. Tuesday.