Hilltopper football players lined up on the field last Thursday for the Red and White scrimmage to showcase their skills in front of the public for the first time.
They also wanted to guarantee a starting position.
“I thought we saw some good things,” coach David Elson said. “Our wide receivers stepped up with some good catches.”
Sophomore quarterback Justin Haddix led the first-team offense against the second-team defense. Sophomore backup quarterback Blake Ladson led the second-team offense against the first-team defense.
The first-team offense was quick to score in the first quarter.
At third and 18, Haddix and junior receiver Maurice Perkins connected for a 40-yard touchdown pass, one of Haddix’s two for the night.
Haddix connected on 9-of-13 attempts for 171 yards while Ladson threw 134 yards completing seven passes out of 14.
Ladson threw two touchdown passes in the second quarter – one at 46 yards to sophomore Rannen Roberson and a 39-yarder to sophomore Aaron Scott.
Junior outside linebacker Brandon Smith wasn’t too pleased after the first-string defense allowed the second-string offense to score so many points.
“Not to take anything away from our second-team offense, but I was upset that it was our second-team offense,” Smith said. “But we’ll come in, watch the film and get it corrected.”
Elson agrees there’s a lot of work to be done.
“Our first defense looked good for the most part,” he said. “It’s not the end of anything.”
The deep wide receiver position was obvious during the scrimmage.
Four receivers posted at least two receptions for the night, Scott leading all with three. Junior Earl Clayton and senior Montaze Trumbo caught two passes each. Roberson had a game-high 58 yards.
Those kind of numbers were enough to make Haddix comfortable to target the receivers for key plays.
“I’ve got confidence in most of them,” Haddix said. “And we moved the ball really well. When Lerron (Moore) gets back, he’ll make it more explosive.”
Moore sat out with a sore left hamstring.
Sophomore Brian Porter was a spark for the running backs, rushing for 103 yards with 13 carries.
“Porter had a good night, and he’s an able backup to compete with Lerron,” Elson said. “He looks small on the field, but he’s very explosive. I’m excited about what he’ll do for us this season.”
But the question still remains for the place kicking position between true freshman Tanner Siewart and redshirt freshman Chris James.
“That’s still the main concern,” Elson said. “Tanner kicks the ball well, but he wasn’t as good tonight.”
Siewart missed two field goals out of three attempts, while James went 2-for-3 for the night.
Now that preseason scrimmages are over, the team is focusing on another team: No. 12 Kansas State.
The Hilltoppers’ season-opener against the Wildcats will take place at 6:10 p.m. Saturday in Manhattan, Kan.
“All we have been doing was focus on ourselves – we haven’t thought about Kansas State,” Smith said. “This week is all about Kansas State. The fun’s over.”
Reach Amber North at [email protected]