It’s official. If my team is down with a minute to play with the ball, give me Michael German. Three weeks ago, winning touchdown with one second left. This week, NO time left.
Just…give me another quarterback the first 59 minutes of the game, so we’re not in that situation to begin with…
Here’s tonight’s Final Word:
Eastern Illinois 24, Eastern Kentucky 7
If you win the turnover battle, and you win time of possession, your chances of winning a football game are greatly enhanced. Eastern Kentucky did both of those things, yet struggled to move the football against one of the friendliest defenses in the conference. The result, the Colonels get their 2nd conference loss, and will now need a lot of help to keep their conference title, and likely their FCS playoff hopes alive.
For the most part, EKU was able to contain the Eastern Illinois offensive attack averaging 43 points a game heading into today’s contest, but it was the Panthers defense that stole the show, holding the Colonels vaunted rushing offense to just 81 yards.
And it’s hard to put this loss on the EKU defense: The Colonels forced 4 turnovers, but the offense didn’t score a single point off of them.
Despite some offensive struggles, Eric Lora finished with ten catches for 97 yards. His streak of seven straight games with 100-yards receiving was snapped but Lora did break the OVC single season reception record, with 3 games to pad his lofty total of 93. Jimmy Garoppollo threw for 2 touchdown and 2 picks, both categories he leads the league in.
Eastern Illinois is now in a 3-way tie for first. The other two teams, Tennessee State and UT Martin, meet in a few weeks in Martin. The Panthers sole OVC loss is to the Skyhawks. The Panthers are the one conference team TSU does not play this season. The Panthers travel next week to Tennessee Tech. The Colonels travel to play Southeast Missouri, in a must-win game to have any chance at a conference crown.
Tennessee Tech 21, Tennessee State 22
Right after this game went final, Tom Via tweeted me asking how do you even write about this team. One word, I responded: Clutch. Except it’s really not that simple at all.
With 1:05 to go, the Golden Eagles lined up for a 37-yard field goal, that would have put Tech up by 9. Instead, that field goal fell short, giving the Tigers the ball on the TTU 27 with 1:01 to play. Tennessee State then marched 73-yards on 12 plays, with German throwing the game-tying touchdown to A.C. Leonard in the back of the endzone as time expired. It was the Tigers first touchdown all game.
The Tigers stormed the field, but no excessive celebration penalty was called. The Tigers lined up, and sent the game winning PAT through the uprights. On that final play, the Tigers stay in the thick of the OVC title race; And the defending Ohio Valley Conference champs remained winless in conference play.
But the hero of the game isn’t Michael German. It’s TSU’s place kicker, Jamin Godfrey, who kicked a team record five field goals, and the game winning PAT under serious pressure. Tennessee State outgained the Golden Eagles by over 200 yards. Had they punched in those early drives for touchdowns (4 of the 5 field goals were taken with the Tigers inside the Red Zone) the final drive wouldn’t have been needed.
Tennessee Tech will try to get their first conference win next week hosting the high-powered Eastern Illinois offense. Tennessee State travels to Murray State.
Murray State 35, Jacksonville State 38
In what essentially amounted to an elimination game, Murray State quarterback Casey Brockman was picked for the third time with 1:51 to play, as the Jacksonville State Gamecocks held on for the win, and to their slim OVC title hopes. This one very much a tale of two halves, with both teams lighting up the scoreboard in the first, and both defenses stiffening in the second.
Washuan Ealey ran for 146 yards on 37 carries for the Gamecocks, and while Marques Ivory completed less than 50% of his passes he held onto the football, finishing the day with 205 yards and 2 touchdowns, and perhaps more importantly, 0 picks. The Gamecocks controlled the clock, holding onto the ball for over 39 minutes, thanks in part to two 6-minute plus touchdown drives.
As has been the story much of the season, the Racers defense struggled yet again, especially on third down, allowing the Gamecocks to convert 11 of 21. They were able to force 3 fumbles, with the offense converting all 3 into touchdowns.
The win was number 100 for Jacksonville State coach Jack Crowe.
The Racers, reduced to playing spoiler, host Tennessee State next week. Jacksonville State can help their OVC title chances when they travel to one-loss Tennessee Martin.
Southeast Missouri 48, Austin Peay 27
Redhawks quarterback Scott Lathrop completed just 2 of 9 passes, and the Redhawks scored 48 points. Just let that sink in for a moment…
A woeful perfomance by the Austin Peay front four as the Redhawks rush for 399 yards, led by 191 from Lathrop, and SEMO moves to 2-3 in the conference with in a 48-27 win. Despite allowing the Redhawks to literally run all over them, the Governors were mounting a comeback late, down two touchdowns with 3:05 remaining, on the SEMO 2 yard line when Reco Williams fumbled. It was scooped up by Brandon Spann, who took it 98 yards for the game-sealing touchdown.
All in all, a good day from Austin Peay quarterback Jake Ryan, who finished 23-38 for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns. Williams also rushed for 133 yards, but the Governors coughed up 3 fumbles in the loss.
The Redhawks host Eastern Kentucky in a week’s time. Austin Peay heads out of conference, and out of Division I when they host Culver-Stockton.