This week’s slate of games was interesting to say the least. Not a single home team won and it felt like the games were all over in the third quarter including the OVC’s Game of the Year. The focus now turns to which teams could make a November push for a possible FCS at-large spot.
Jacksonville State wins despite injuries at Tennessee Tech 34-14
ZW: Jacksonville State got the most out of its bye week, preparing their backup quarterbacks for a solid performance and giving the defense plenty of time to see everything Tennessee Tech could throw at them. The defense made the Golden Eagle passing game a non-factor, and linebacker Ketrick Wolfe got an interception.
On offense, the Gamecocks had a clean performance, running the ball a staggering 55 times for 199 yards and passing for 251 yards without a turnover. Backup quarterback Eli Jenkins led an 80-yard drive to take the early lead, but he went down in the second quarter. Kyle West came in relief to throw the first two touchdown passes of his career. Running back DaMarcus James scored his OVC-high 12th touchdown of the season and ran for 126 yards. Australian punter Hammish MacInnes had a JSU record 86-yard punt today thanks to swirling winds in Cookesville.
Tennessee Tech struggled today against the Gamecocks. Quarterback Darian Stone was their only true source of offense, running twenty times for 79 yards and passing twenty-three times. The Golden Eagles only completed eight passes for 99 yards. This inability to pass prevented Tech from coming back after giving up a big lead, and they only converted 33% of third downs.
Tennessee Tech’s defense had a hard time stopping anything against Jax State. The only good thing to say about the defense was three Golden Eagles had ten or more tackles. Linebacker Ta’Darius Goff had an incredible sixteen tackles today. The junior leads the OVC in tackles with 84.
Eastern Kentucky runs over Southeast Missouri 31-7
ZW: This game was never close. Eastern Kentucky ran away against SEMO for their fifth win of the season. The Colonel’s offense relied on the run, rushing for 213 yards behind running back J.J. Jude who rushed for 114. The offense put up 24 points in the first half and never looked back.
SEMO had a quiet night on offense thanks to poor field position the entire day. Quarterback Scott Lathrop passed for 150 yards and ran for 48, but this was not enough to get SEMO in the end zone on a regular basis. While the yardage was close between the two teams, Lathrop’s two fumbles prevented the Redhawks from making the game a close one.
Neither team had standout performances on defense, but the Colonels managed to force two critical fumbles that swung the game 14 points in EKU’s favor. SEMO coughed up the ball inside the EKU five yard line, and they fumbled again on the EKU 35 to setup a Colonels touchdown. SEMO forced a fumble on a kickoff, but they were unable to convert their lone takeaway into points.
This game showed us both teams are who we thought they were. EKU is a run first team with a defense that can be frustrating for offenses to face. SEMO is a competitive team who cannot get the breaks they need to turn the corner for their program.
UT Martin gets big performances in 38-14 win over Austin Peay
TV: The Skyhawks kept Austin Peay winless on the season as running D.J. McNeil and wide receiver Jeremy Butler carried the offense to victory.
With Jarod Neal starting for UT Martin it was evident the Skyhawks were going to need other weapons to step up and win the game and that is exactly what they got. While Neal did throw for almost 300 yards, he had two interceptions nearly doubling Austin Peay’s stats in the category. McNeil rushed for 114 yard on 17 carries and was one of three running backs to score in the game. On the outside it was Butler who was the preferred target of Neal, catching 11 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
For the Governors there was a lot of promise shown in the game. Not only did Austin Peay score their most points on the season, but it was young players making the plays. In his first collegiate start, Timarious Mitchell was 12 of 26 for 100 yards and two touchdowns. While Jamaar Embry was the leading receiver with six catches, Darryl Clack made the most of his two catches with both being scores. Omar Williams led the Govs on the ground rushing for 122 yards on a good Skyhawks rushing defense.
Eastern Illinois shuts down Tennessee State 34-10
TV: Call this another statement victory by the Eastern Illinois Panthers that is leading to media talking about how far could this team go in the FCS playoffs. While the offense seemed shaky at moments with TSU’s blitzes, the Panther defense shutdown Tennessee State.
EIU quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo hit the grass more than usual but still put on an amazing show against a Tigers defense that had all their defensive backs in the game. Garoppolo was 24 of 41, showing that yes TSU did mess with him, but tossed for over 400 yards and four touchdowns. While the shorter crossing routes seemed to locked down, the big players were not as Keiondre Gober and Jeff LePak each caught two touchdowns on wide up streak routes. Garoppolo on the night tossed his 35th touchdown on the season, passing Tony Romo for the OVC’s single season passing touchdown record with a month remaining.
Running back Shepard Little continued his impressive play rushing for 138 yards on 22 carries.
The one item we pointed out in the pre game was TSU’s reliance on the running game. It seemed to be working fine and was setting up play-action passes for Ronald Butler. Then the Panthers started scoring and eliminated the ground attack forcing Butler to become a passer. The usually efficient quarterback finished the game 24 of 45 for 212 yards and two touchdowns that were scored in the fourth quarter with the game in hand. Leading rusher Tim Broughton had 93 yards on 16 carries but didn’t see much action in the second half due to the Tigers tried to throw their way back into the game.
The Tigers defense seemed to do well, holding Garoppolo to his worst accuracy of the season and got multiple shots on the quarterback. That being said, the Tigers reliance on takeaways for scores didn’t happen and thus led to the loss. Much like the New Orleans Saints, this team needs the defense to score and it didn’t tonight. Worth pointing out the Tigers intercepted Garoppolo pushing their takeaway streak to 22 consecutive games.