| March 20, 2018

Football: Luton Shines in First Scrimmage

April 4, 2016

The Idaho football team conducted its first spring scrimmage Saturday morning at Bengal Field in Lewiston.

Sophomore quarterback Jake Luton had a strong performance with the first-team offense in place of junior Matt Linehan, who is out this spring with a foot injury.

“I think he had a good day,” Idaho head coach Paul Petrino said. “I think each day he has gotten better. His first three days were a lot at him. I think this week – practices four, five and six – he really improved over day one, two and three.”

In the opening minutes of the scrimmage, Luton found wide receiver Callen Hightower in the middle of the field after the senior slipped past coverage from the linebackers. Hightower then juked several defenders on his way to a 32-yard touchdown reception.

“We are just all out here having fun,” Hightower said. “It was just a catch I had to make, I didn’t really think too much about it.”

Luton finished the scrimmage with 36 completions on 64 attempts. The sophomore amassed 571 yards through the air and recorded seven touchdowns.

“I feel perfectly comfortable,” Luton said. “Just getting a lot reps and getting better every day. That’s all I can really do, is keep improving.

Junior Aaron Duckworth was the first running back to take the field during Saturday’s scrimmage.

Duckworth relied on outside run plays to collect the majority of his yardage, using his speed to beat the defensive ends to the sideline. The junior had 14 rushing attempts for 103 yards and three touchdowns on the day.

Running back Denzal Brantley also saw a strong scrimmage as a secondary receiving option for Luton.

Brantley had a 53-yard touchdown reception from Luton after finding open space from a 5-yard out route. The running back relied on a key block from tight end Deon Watson to beat defenders to the outside.

Brantley finished with three receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt freshman also had nine rushes for 76 yards and two touchdowns during the scrimmage.

Sophomore Isaiah Saunders had a quiet day from the running back position, averaging 4.8 yards per rush. Saunders finished with 86 rushing yards on 18 attempts and recorded a 1-yard touchdown run.

Transfer wide receiver Alfonso Onunwor was targeted by Luton several times during the team’s scrimmage. The wide receiver finished with six receptions for 72 yards.

“Alfonso is fitting in perfect,” Hightower said. “Like I said, that’s another one of my brothers. I just feel like he is making great strides to being a great receiver. He is a great addition to our offense.”

On the defensive side of the ball, redshirt sophomore Tony Lashley had a showing at linebacker. Lashley recorded the lone interception of the scrimmage after a pass from Luton was batted into the air.

“It felt really good,” Lashley said. “I had a season-ending injury last season, so it just felt good to be out there with the defense.”

Cornerback Dorian Clark finished the scrimmage with three deflected passes during his time on the field in the secondary.

Sophomore quarterback Gunnar Amos saw occasional time with the offense during Saturday’s scrimmage. Amos initially ran option plays and utilized secondary routes in the flats, but began to take deeper shots down the field as the practice progressed.

The highlight for the sophomore included a 37-yard pass down the middle of the field to redshirt sophomore wide receiver David Ungerer. Amos had 13 completions for 213 yards and one touchdown pass.

Petrino said he was excited about holding the scrimmage in Lewiston.

“I thought it was great to come down here,” Petrino said. “We have some really good supporters down here.”

The Vandals will scrimmage for the second time this spring at 10 a.m. Saturday in the Kibbie Dome.

Josh Grissom can be reached at arg-sports@uidaho.edu or on Twitter @GoshJrissom

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