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Offense Posts Big Numbers in Scrimmage

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Arkansas Tech rolled up 780 yards of total offense during a 139-play scrimmage at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field on Saturday night.

The Wonder Boys passed for 469 yards and ran for 311 yards during the one hour and 45 minute workout, which was the first major intrasquad scrimmage of Arkansas Tech’s preseason camp.

“Our number one objective tonight was to come out as healthy as we started, and we achieved that,” said Wonder Boys head coach Steve Mullins. “We have too many wide receivers and too many defensive linemen on the sideline right now with nagging things. We’ve got to get them back out there, and when we can I think it will improve both sides of the ball.”

Tanner Marsh, a senior transfer from West Texas A&M University who closed out spring practice No. 1 on the Arkansas Tech depth chart at quarterback, completed 7-of-15 passes for 86 yards and a touchdown on Saturday. The Wonder Boys’ offense did not commit any turnovers during the scrimmage.

“I think Tanner secured his spot as far as being the starter,” said Mullins when asked about his quarterbacks. “Preston Conder and Carlos Ibarra also played very well. It goes back to the fact that our offensive execution was at a high level tonight. As a head coach, you are very happy about the offense but you’re not happy about the defense. I’m anxious to watch the video and see the places we need to improve.”

Conder completed 12-of-17 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown. Ibarra was 14-of-17 through the air for 196 yards and a touchdown.

Tyler Woosley and Jermaine Murdock were the Wonder Boys’ top two receivers on Saturday. Woosley made six catches for 129 yards and a touchdown. Murdock caught eight passes for 100 yards.

Casey Henderson and Ejay Johnson led the Arkansas Tech rushing attack. Henderson carried 14 times for 121 yards, while Johnson accumulated 75 rushing yards in 14 attempts.

A true freshman, Johnson scored a touchdown on a 5-yard run after receiving a lateral from Conder on the next-to-last possession of the scrimmage.

In all, there were 21 possessions on Saturday night. Arkansas Tech’s offense scored on seven of those possessions (four touchdowns, three field goals).

The first points of the night came on the first possession when Trevor Pinkston connected on a 50-yard field goal.

James Jackson scored the first touchdown of the scrimmage on possession No. 6. He caught an 8-yard scoring strike from Marsh. Dennis Edwards added the point after touchdown kick.

Two series later, Conder found Woosley for a 10-yard touchdown pass. Pinkston made the extra point.

Tech’s defense held the offense to a pair of field goals --- a 22-yard kick by Edwards and a 27-yard boot by Pinkston --- over the next 11 possessions.

The offense re-asserted itself at the end of the evening with Johnson’s 5-yard touchdown run and a 2-yard touchdown pass from Ibarra to Michael Fine. Both extra points --- one each by Edwards and Pinkston --- were good.

The Wonder Boys’ final major scrimmage of preseason camp will begin at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Thone Stadium at Buerkle Field.

There will be a beginning of school pep rally at the stadium before the scrimmage at 5:30 p.m. Admission will be free and open to the public.

Mullins is looking forward to how a rule change this season --- moving the line for kickoffs from the 30 to the 35-yard line --- will affect that aspect of special teams.

“That will be the first time we do kickoff return and kickoff coverage in a live situation, and that’s always a challenge,” said Mullins of Tuesday’s scrimmage. “There will probably be a big play on kickoffs on Tuesday. We’ve worked on kicking off from the 35-yard line in practice, but I’ll be anxious to see what that does as far as our coverage. If we can put some in the end zone for touchbacks that would be beyond pleasing.”

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