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JONESBORO -- As Jonathan Adams Jr. stretched out his left hand, snatched the football in stride and trotted untouched into the south end zone of Centennial Bank Stadium, everything felt normal. For just a moment, it didn't feel like a pandemic was threatening Arkansas State University and all of college football's 2020 season.

And the Red Wolves, who hosted their first scrimmage of fall camp Saturday, looked like they hadn't skipped a beat despite an unprecedented and uncertain offseason.

"I tell the quarterbacks I'm always open," Adams said. "I just stuck my one hand out, and it just fell right in there."

While Adams made the play of the day, all eyes were on the quarterbacks as junior Logan Bonner and sophomore Layne Hatcher dual for the starting spot. Both had their ups and downs, with Hatcher throwing the only touchdown of the day to Adams on that 45-yard strike down the sideline.

ASU Coach Blake Anderson was pleased that neither made many mistakes.

"Unless I missed something, neither one of them turned the ball over. That's the main thing," Anderson said. "I really didn't pay attention to who was out there when ... but it looked like we had some big plays with each one of them out there. It's a little hard to determine because when they're with the ones, the integrity of the O-line is a little better than with the twos. I'll know a lot more when I go back and watch the tape, but you could see they both made some plays when they needed to.

"We probably still made some mistakes that we need to fix, but mainly they didn't turn the ball over. That's where it starts."

Bonner, who started the first four games of 2019 before suffering a season-ending injury, took the first snaps of the day. He led the Red Wolves offense across the length of the field in five plays after junior Ryan Graham broke off a 40-yard run to the 1.

Bonner really hit his stride in the second half of the scrimmage, finding senior wide receivers Dahu Green and Bubba Ogbebor for 50- and 31-yard gains, respectively, on back-to-back plays.

While Bonner had a nice day through the air, he said it started on the ground where the Red Wolves were equally as impressive, with Graham and freshman running back Lincoln Pare carrying much of the load.

"I think overall, we started to run the ball really well. That was a big emphasis for this year's camp. When it's third and 1 or fourth and 1, we need to be able to run the ball," Bonner said. "I think the guys up front did a great job pass and run blocking. I think the receivers made great plays, we just got to hit them.

"All the quarterbacks missed a few. That'll come with repetition. But I thought the receivers, running backs and O-line did a great job today."

Hatcher was a bit more aggressive with the deep ball, connecting with Adams and Ogbebor multiple times for big plays. He also missed a couple of throws, most notably under-throwing redshirt junior wide receiver Leroy DeShazor on a would-be touchdown early in the scrimmage.

Hatcher expects those type of plays will come in due time. He, like Anderson, is just glad there were no turnovers.

"I thought we had a good day. No turnovers was the biggest thing," said Hatcher, who took over for Bonner last season and was named the Sun Belt Freshman of the Year. "There were some big plays in there, you've just got to let them come to you. I missed some opportunities. But overall, we had some guys making some big plays."

Anderson has yet to set a timetable on when to announce a starter. Arkansas State kicks off the season at Memphis on Sept. 5, and the decision may not be made until the Red Wolves take the field for their first offensive series.

The two quarterbacks have become friends off the field, after rooming together on road trips last season, but they both admit that the competition has helped them improve on and off the field.

"We're both trying to put this team in the best position to win, and there's no negative feelings there. It's just whatever we need to do to help this team win football games," Hatcher said. "I think it's good. I think the biggest thing it does is it helps you focus every day in practice. There's no room to kind of let up. If there was a guy who was a clear-cut one, you could probably let up.

"For us, every day is important."


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