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Even with the Shrine Circus occupying the Adams Center on Friday, the day's most impressive acrobatics came next door at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

Spring scrimmage or playoff game, Griz dynamo Jerry Louie-McGee's effort is identical. His full-rotation somersault into the end zone marked the highlight of an otherwise sloppy Griz scrimmage.

Louie-McGee, who thrilled Griz fans during a breakout freshman season in 2016, gave a preview of his sophomore encore on a fly sweep pass from quarterback Gresch Jensen near the end of Friday's action. The speedy receiver turned the right corner and went over the top of two defenders and the goal line for a touchdown.

"We all know J-Strong can bring it," Louie-McGee said of senior safety Justin Strong, who was ready to meet him at the pylon, "and if I could take a front flip or get hit by J-Strong, I'm taking the front flip."

Louie-McGee's feet reconnecting with the maroon turf completed Jensen's second TD of the day. The redshirt freshman passer churned out the best performance among the three QBs vying for the vacant starting spot.

He had touchdowns to Louie-McGee and redshirt freshman running back Rey Green to finish 11 of 19 for 85 yards.

That included a 7-of-11 performance on a 15-play drive that he piloted during the scrimmage's second overall possession. He picked up a fourth down and two thirds before Green slipped out all alone for a 5-yard score in same corner where an hour later Louie-McGee stamped his name.

"I tell ya, Gresch is very prepared. He puts a lot of time into this," head coach Bob Stitt said of his young QB. "For a freshman to be able to come out and operate the offense the way he does is pretty impressive, and it's because he puts the time in."

As it was all day, the good was balanced with some bad. Jensen and receiver Jed Nagler got their signals crossed two Jensen-led drives later. The WR went deep, but Jensen's pass stayed short. Safety Evan Epperly was there for a pick-six interception touchdown, the first of two picks for the junior on the day.


The offense's mental mistakes weren't limited to drives led by Jensen. Penalties, dropped passes and a few issues in play execution kept possessions from paying off with scores throughout the day, not untypical of most debut spring scrimmages.

The day's only two field goal attempts also both went wide: a 48-yarder from Brandon Purdy and a 35-yarder from Tim Semenza.

"Having some people in the stands changes things and you could see that," Stitt said. "Some things that weren't happening in practices happened today."

Quarterbacks Reese Phillips and Caleb Hill threw an interception apiece. Hill's came on a long pass that Epperly jumped -- receiver Samuel Akem made him pay with a hard tackle on the return -- while Phillips' was less his fault. Senior H WR Makena Simis corralled a Phillips pass over the middle, but as he began to move up field sophomore safety Josh Sandry ripped it away for a tough-luck interception.

"As a secondary and as a defense as a whole, we really focus on getting the ball," said Epperly, a Kalispell Glacier product. "If we can create turnovers, that's a plus for the defense and gives us a better chance to win the game."

Phillips, a senior, finished 10 of 19 for 57 yards on six drives while Hill, a junior, was just 4 of 15 for 36 in five tries. Neither led the offense to points.

As the eldest statesman, Phillips ran with the first-stringers through most of the scrimmage while Jensen and Hill rotated with the twos. Jensen got first crack at the field ahead of Hill on Friday.

Louie-McGee finished with 52 yards, mostly all after the catch on his four receptions, while redshirt freshman Samori Toure led the way with six grabs.

Jensen was the top rusher with 26 yards as the Griz struggled to get anything going on the ground regardless of personnel. The QB showed some chops running the read-option, faking a halfback handoff and instead taking it himself a few times.

The Griz accumulated just 65 rush yards on 26 carries and the offensive line allowed three sacks, two by senior end Tucker Schye and one from sophomore linebacker Vika Fa'atuiese.

Stitt wasn't discouraged, though. There's two more scrimmages this spring -- next Friday back at Wa-Griz before the annual Grizzly Spring Game in Butte on April 22 -- and there's always some rust early.

"It felt better than previous springs (when) we gave up a lot of sacks, didn't feel like we cold drop back and throw the ball," Stitt said. "Today I felt like we could get the protection and get the ball off on time."

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