Defense sparkles in Southeast Missouri State football team's scrimmage

Sunday, August 19, 2012
Southeast Missouri State running back Levi Terrell leaps over defensive back Sam Poole during Saturday's scrimmage at Houck Stadium. (ADAM VOGLER)

The Southeast Missouri State football team pretty much put the wraps on what coach Tony Samuel and his players believe was a strong preseason camp with a final scrimmage.

Saturday's session at Houck Stadium, which lasted about 75 minutes, featured situational work as well as the scrimmaging.

"I think we had a very good camp," said Samuel, whose squad officially concludes camp today before classes begin Monday. "I think this group is coming together.

"I like where we are. We just need to keep evaluating and working."

Junior cornerback Cantrell Andrews, a Central High School graduate, said he believes the camp that has run a little more than two weeks helped the Redhawks bond.

Southeast Missouri State running back Levi Terrell breaks for the end zone during Saturday's scrimmage at Houck Stadium. (ADAM VOGLER)

"It was tough, but I believe it made us closer as a team," Andrews said.

Southeast's defense, which struggled last season, was solid in both scrimmages. Andrews and junior safety Ben Kargbo believe that's a sign of things to come.

"We've been flying around to the ball," Andrews said. "We're trying to have a new attitude."

Southeast's offense was held to 118 yards on 60 plays.

"We're coming together. It's been a long process," Kargbo said. "We have another year under the system [of second-year defensive coordinator Brian "Moose" Mohnsen]. I feel we'll do a lot better."

The defense registered 12 tackles for losses totaling 115 yards.

Backup sophomore linebacker David Smart had an interception and a sack. He and senior tackle Josyah O'Keefe-Lopez led the way with five tackles apiece. O'Keefe-Lopez added a sack.

"I thought the defense did well," Andrews said.

Samuel said he liked quite a bit of what he saw Saturday on both sides of the ball. He emphasized that Southeast did not use all its projected starters on the same unit very long.

"We're still spreading it around," Samuel said. "It looked like a good scrimmage. I liked the way the offense finished that last session. I thought we had a lot of good rhythm. I think we're gaining momentum defensively. We still have to do a better job with tackling overall. The energy is good."

Southeast's offense scored just one touchdown until ending the scrimmage with three straight touchdowns while starting from the defense's 30-yard line.

The first touchdown was on a 50-yard drive. Sophomore reserve fullback Brandon Beck from Jackson High School scored on a 1-yard plunge.

Southeast's offense then finished strong.

Senior tailback Levi Terrell scored on a 13-yard run, redshirt freshman quarterback Scott Lathrop tossed a 13-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tailback Lennies McFerren and true freshman tailback DeMichael Jackson scored on a 3-yard run.

Redshirt freshman Lewis Washington, who missed last season with a leg injury, led Southeast rushers with 52 yards on six carries. He had runs of 17 and 13 yards.

"We're playing him at tailback and fullback," Samuel said. "You can see his athleticism for a 240-pound-plus kid."

Jackson had a second straight impressive scrimmage. He made several nice cuts while gaining 25 yards on eight carries.

"He's got a lot of potential," Samuel said.

Southeast's top three tailbacks, all returners, did not see much action. Terrell gained 23 yards on five carries.

Lathrop, the starting quarterback after Kyle Snyder suffered a torn ACL early in camp, completed 3 of 5 passes for 41 yards and a touchdown.

"The more reps I get, I feel like I'm settling in," Lathrop said.

True freshman Blake Jackson, listed No. 2 at quarterback, was 2 of 7 for 20 yards.

Colby Baker, another true freshman, was 3 of 5 for 22 yards. He threw the lone interception.

"I feel like we progressed. We had a good camp," Lathrop said.

With the fall semester starting Monday, the Redhawks will settle into a once-a-day practice routine in the afternoon following classes.

Southeast opens the season Aug. 30 at Central Michigan.

"We still have a long way to go, but I think we'll be ready for Central Michigan," Kargbo said.

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