Interceptions vault defense past offense

Sunday, May 3, 2009
Southeast Missouri State's Ashton Farmer carries the ball after a reception during the first quarter Saturday at Houck Stadium. (Fred Lynch)

Maloney picked off Scheible and returned it for a touchdown.

The defense again got the better of the offense Saturday during Southeast Missouri State's spring football game at Houck Stadium.

It wasn't as lopsided as last year, but that didn't detract from the delight junior linebacker Patrick Maloney took in retaining bragging rights for the Redhawks' defense.

"The offense was talking smack all spring. It was nice to put it to them," Maloney said following the intrasquad contest that concluded Southeast's spring practice.

Maloney, who scored a touchdown on one of four interceptions, smiled when he made that comment.

Southeast Missouri State quarterback Dustin Powell scores on a keeper during the fourth quarter Saturday. (Fred Lynch)

But the Redhawks' defenders were pleased by their 42-28 victory in front of about 250 fans. The defense romped 50-11 last year.

"We wanted to win," Maloney said.

Saturday's affair featured a scoring system that allowed both units to compile points.

The bulk of the scoring by the defense came on the four interceptions, which were worth six points each. Six more points came via Maloney's touchdown.

"We had a lot of interceptions," Maloney said. "It was good on our part, but not so good for the offense."

Southeast Missouri State's Walter Peoples hauls in a pass from Matt Scheible for the offense team in the fourth quarter Saturday at Houck Stadium. A photo gallery from the intrasquad game is available at (Fred Lynch)

Maloney, who missed all of last season with an injury after being a part-time starter in 2007, came up with the second interception of Saturday's contest.

Maloney stepped in front of a Matt Scheible pass and raced 35 yards to the end zone.

"It felt pretty good," Maloney said. "We were running a little man coverage and I pressed the line. It came right to me."

Scheible, who will enter his sophomore season No. 1 on the depth chart, also was picked off by senior cornerbacks Eddie Calvin and Salim Powell.

Junior linebacker Joshua Jackson added the final interception, off senior Dustin Powell.

Doug Spada attempts a field goal at the end of the game Saturday at Houck Stadium. Check out more photos from the game at

"Our intensity was pretty good, although I've seen it better," Maloney said of the defense.

Scheible completed 9 of 14 passes for 127 yards, while Powell was 9 of 11 for 143 yards. Each scored a late touchdown on a short run.

Southeast coach Tony Samuel thought Scheible and Powell took a while getting used to the game's rule that prevented hitting the quarterbacks.

To avoid potential injury, the signal callers were ruled down once a defender was in the area. That negated Scheible's ability to escape pressure, one of his major strengths.

"Early I thought the quarterbacks were concerned with the quick whistle," Samuel said. "They're competitors.

"We told the officials to err on the side of caution with the whistle on the quarterbacks."

Southeast's other offensive touchdown was the most impressive as junior tailback Henry Harris had a dazzling 31-yard run.

Harris appeared to be hemmed in near the line of scrimmage, but he eluded several before cutting back and racing down the right sideline.

"I saw everybody stretching to the left. I thought I'd take a chance on the cutback," Harris said.

Harris was Saturday's top rusher with 54 yards on seven carries.

Harris ranked second on the Redhawks with 318 yards while averaging a team-leading 4.2 yards per attempt last year.

This is the first spring at Southeast for the Memphis transfer, who saw limited action for the Tigers in 2007 after redshirting in 2006.

"Henry made a great run," Samuel said. "This was his first spring ball and he's done well."

Harris figures to take on an even bigger role this season after Timmy Holloman -- Southeast's leading rusher over the past four years -- completed his eligibility.

"Those are big shoes to fill," Harris said.

Senior Doug Spada added a 27-yard field goal.

Junior Miles Edwards led Southeast receivers with four catches for 45 yards.

Redshirt freshman Ola Alli caught three passes for 22 yards.

Redshirt freshman Cedric Cox had two catches for 63 yards, and senior tight end Ashton Farmer caught two balls for 61 yards.

Senior fullback Nick Grassi and junior fullback Nathan Grass both added two receptions, for 25 and 18 yards, respectively.

"The defense did a pretty good job today," Harris said. "We have a long way to go, but it was definitely a good spring. We have more team chemistry."

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