Eliah Drinkwitz’s offense roared to life Saturday in App State’s third and final spring scrimmage on a beautiful morning at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
In an open scrimmage in front of fans, family and former players, the offense set the tone after a dominant defensive performance this past Saturday. Zac Thomas opened the scoring on the first play with a 25-yard TD pass to Malik Williams against the Mountaineers’ first-team defense.
The ground game also cashed in with various scores throughout the morning. Darrynton Evans received a handoff, accelerated and made a nifty juke in the open field before walking into the end zone for a 14-yard score. Quarterbacks Jacob Huesman and Tanner Wilson also showed off their versatility with lengthy scampers off of option keepers.
Aside from impressive production on the ground and through the air, the Mountaineers also surprised punter Clayton Howell with a scholarship in the middle of the scrimmage. Howell received the news, and his teammates mobbed him in the south end zone after he delivered a booming punt to the other side of the field.
“Nothing is given. Everything is earned,” Drinkwitz said. “He’s a young man who has had a lot of success here in the past season, and this spring he’s been very consistent. I know how important special teams are, and so he’s earned a scholarship and he’s a vital part of our team.”
Other offensive highlights included a long touchdown run from Jalen Virgil, who showed off his speed after making a defender miss in the open field and racing into the end zone for a 60-yard score. Camerun Peoples showcased his skills as a pass catcher by snagging a deep pass down the sideline to put the offense in the red zone.
“His [Drinkwitz’s] whole playbook is designed to move the ball down the field,” Virgil said. “It’s just us really getting used to the offense and getting in our groove. I feel like we’re all in a pretty good position to make plays with this offense.”
Even with many explosive plays on offense, the Mountaineers’ linebackers had standout moments of their own. Two plays after recording a sack, Nick Hampton snatched a ball off a deflection and returned a pick six 75 yards to the end zone. Noel Cook, Akeem Davis-Gaither and Brendan Harrington also shined in front of former App State defenders such as Ronald Blair III, Doug Middleton, Okon Godwin, MyQuon Stout, Tae Hayes and Clifton Duck.
Chandler Staton remained consistent on field goals, nailing all three attempts. His longest conversion split the uprights from 40 yards out.
Along with former players returning to Saturday’s scrimmage, App State welcomed a large contingent of former players and alumni to its Gridiron Social on Friday night.