CHARLESTON, S.C. - Mostly fair skies greeted the Charleston Southern football team on Tuesday evening as the Buccaneers concluded their second scrimmage of the 2018 preseason.
The defense held the momentum early with Evan Cruz and Jonathan Earl both recording early turnovers. The offense battled back later in the session and showed life with both first team and second team units point points on the board on multiple drives.
The early periods saw both sides of the ball struggle with rules adjustments as the officials on the field called the game tight by design.
"It was sloppy at first because I asked the officials to get after our players in a few areas which forced us to make early changes on both sides of the ball," Head Coach Mark Tucker said. "We made some good plays defensively and offensively, but we have to continue to clean things up on both sides of the ball."
Redshirt junior running back Ronnie Harris had the offense moving early in the contest with a strong run on the first play from scrimmage. He added a reception on a short pass over the middle to take the ball near midfield before the Bucs were forced to punt it away.
Evan Cruz made one of the defense's plays of the evening as the redshirt sophomore defensive back undercut a Jack Chambers pass for an interception to end the offense's second drive. The defense's hits kept coming on the third drive as Craig Johnson came up on a pass to the tight end in the flat and pushed him out of bounds for the three-and-out.
Taz Lindsey took over from there as the rising senior went up and over the defensive back for a catch on third-and-long on the next drive to move the chains. Harris continued his strong play with a tough run between the tackles to convert a fourth down later in the drive. Lindsey added a pair of first downs – one on a reception on a slant, the other on an option pitch around the right side to move the ball across midfield for the first time. A penalty ended the drive and forced another punt.
Jonathan Earl continued the defense's strong performance early in the going with a fumble recovery on the fifth drive of the scrimmage.
"Defensively, we're in good shape," Tucker said of the early performance. "I'm very pleased with what we're doing in the box defensively and our guys out back are very sound in their play. Offensively we need to pace ourselves better and get a more realistic idea on the pace we need to play."
Lindsey again came through with a tough catch on a back shoulder throw by Chambers to move the Bucs down into the red zone for the first time. Tyler Tekac connected on the 33-yard field goal to put the first points on the board.
A defensive pass interference kept an offensive drive alive later in the scrimmage. Following the free play, London Johnson connected on a 35-yard pass to Kameron Brown near the right sideline. Two plays later, the quarterback took it into the end zone from eight yards out for the first touchdown.
Adam Allen added an 11-yard touchdown run on the ensuing possession. Geoffrey Wall's double move left the defender in the dust down the left sideline and he hauled in Chambers' pass near the 20-yard line leading to the score.
Garris Schwarting stood out over the next two Buccaneer scoring drives with the rising junior making key plays both times. Schwarting went up and over the defender for the reception to set up a Tekac 35-yard field goal. He later picked a ball off the grass for an 18-yard reception setting up a first-and-goal situation. Chambers capitalized on the field position and found John Chiaramonte in the end zone from eight yards out for the final scoring drive of the scrimmage.
Coach Tucker wrapped up his recap of the scrimmage and mentioned the focus of getting ready for game week preparations with Florida.
"We had a goal-line period scheduled, but we also ran a lot of plays today so we cut it a little bit short," Tucker said. "Getting ready for Florida will be a big focus for the next week and a half. We've gone through every situation we could feasibly go through. We have to continue to clean things up and execute better offensively, but I'm very pleased with our specialists and kicking game."
He continued, "We've had one of our better camps we've had. We've been able to look at film and different situations. We'll be in shells tomorrow, get ready for a good hard one on Thursday, and then take care of the rest of the week as we get acclimated to a game week environment next week."