Friday’s football scrimmage between St. Augustine and John Ehret started off as an old-fashioned, smash-mouth affair, then Justice McCoy decided to loosen things up a bit.

After getting off to a slow start, the Purple Knights junior quarterback tossed three touchdown passes in the second half of the scrimmage to lead St. Aug to a 21-7 win over the Patriots at Hoss Memtsas Stadium.

“There are some things we can work on, but it’s good to get out here with our guys and get our first work in against another team,” said first-year St. Aug coach Al Jones.

“Our offense struggled a little bit to start, but once Justice started getting comfortable out there, we moved the ball really well.”

McCoy struggled in the first part of the scrimmage against the stout Ehret defense, only completing 1 of his first 10 passes and had one of those passes intercepted by Ehret safety Jarrius Wallace.

From that point, McCoy found his groove, completing his next 10 passes and finishing 11-of-20 for 174 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. His main target was senior Paul Keller, who finished with five catches for 98 yards and two touchdowns.

“Paul is my guy. He made a bunch of big plays (Friday),” McCoy said. “We’ve been working together all summer trying to build that chemistry, and I think he’s definitely one of my go-to guys in this offense.”

The early part of the scrimmage was dominated by both defenses, which delivered several bone-crushing hits that got loud reactions from the crowd and forced a total of four turnovers.

Along with Wallace’s interception, Ehret recovered two fumbles, including one returned by defensive end Robert Green for the Patriots’ only score. St. Aug linebacker Jessie Moore recovered a fumble.

“Well that’s just football,” Jones said, referring to the big hits in Friday’s scrimmage. “Whenever you get two good teams out here competing, those guys are going to play with passion. We need to do a better job controlling that sometimes, but I loved how hard our guys played.”

While Ehret’s defensive dominance faded as the scrimmage went on, St. Aug’s hard-hitting crew continued to force Ehret into mistakes.

Ehret quarterback Caron Baham, who amassed more than 2,000 yards last season, couldn’t get anything going in the Patriots potent veer-running attack. He finished with less than 50 total yards from scrimmage, and the Ehret first team compiled less than 100 total yards, a far departure from what they produced the majority of last season.

“I think as the scrimmage went along, our guys started getting fatigued and lost site of their fundamentals some,” Ehret coach Corey Lambert said. “We can’t let those silly mistakes hurt us and allow selfish play to beat ourselves. Good teams like St. Aug will take advantage of that every time.”