The first scrimmage of the Minot State football preseason camp began just like the Spring Game in April - with the defense making the big plays.
Sophomore linebacker Levi Freidt returned an interception 55 yards for a touchdown on the first drive at Herb Parker Stadium.
As the scrimmage progressed, however, the offense moved the ball with the help of productive play from some newcomers.
Minot State University freshman defensive back Cooper Helm tackles senior wideout Ozzie Reinholz during a scrimmage Thursday at Herb Parker Stadium. Freshman defensive back Marcel Brinson is at left.
Wide receiver transfers Glyn Borel and Wayne Peters showcased impressive speed and appeared dangerous each time they caught a pass.
"Those guys will definitely be our burners down the side of the field, across the middle, making plays out there and making people miss," sophomore quarterback Bryce Jorgenson said. "Our game plan's gonna have to be just get 'em the ball and let them make plays with their big-play ability."
Two true freshmen - running back Randel Barber and quarterback Zach Cunha - displayed skills that will make them tough for coach Paul Rudolph to redshirt.
Rudolph said the Beavers plan to play the speedy Barber this season and the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Cunha has added himself to the quarterback battle along with Jorgenson and sophomore C.J. Wilson.
"I think (Cunha) has a chance," Rudolph said. "I think he's got an awful good skill set. I don't wanna do anything that's gonna adversely affect him, but at the same token, if he makes our team better then he makes our team better."
Jorgenson led the offense to their first touchdown on the fifth drive of the scrimmage. The methodical march was capped with a four-yard touchdown toss to sophomore wideout Josh Taylor.
"That's definitely the strength with our offense," Jorgenson said. "Just take the five yards here, the five yards there, work the ball down and keep the ball in our possession and keep the first downs comin'."
Wilson led the offense on a long drive from their own 11 with several big plays. Peters had a 35-yard catch and an 18-yard run on an end-around and Wilson scrambled for another first down to set up first-and-goal.
After an illegal shift penalty, the defense answered with two consecutive sacks to stop the drive.
The offense scored their second and final touchdown as senior Ozzie Reinholz hauled in a 34-yard pass from Cunha.
Rudolph said he saw positive play from each of the three quarterbacks.
"Bryce bounced back pretty well and threw some nice balls, he put some balls on the money," Rudolph said. "C.J. did some good things and pretty headsy play and then I thought the true freshman Zach Cunha showed some positive things and put the ball where it needed to go. I think he's feeling pretty decent about himself. I think we got a good battle."
Despite the offense's success late in the scrimmage, the defense provided firm resistance, allowing just two touchdowns on 12 drives and snaring two interceptions. The offense moved within field-goal range on two more drives, but didn't try the kicks.
Junior linebacker Chad Marshall saw positive plays on both sides of the ball.
"Only being through nine practices, it's a lot easier for the defense to walk out on the field and play 'cause it's more of a react-type thing," he said. "The offense, through practice nine, came out and you could tell that they're still not 100 percent on key, but they were gettin' there and you could tell. It was a big positive to watch them go out and really roll at the end of that scrimmage tonight."
The Beavers have another scrimmage Tuesday in preparation for their August 30 opener against Minnesota State University-Mankato at Herb Parker Stadium.