Week 9 was, to be honest, rather boring. No upsets, no really close games. The “game of the year” turned into a dud. The “chaos friendly” OVC has tuned into business as usual
My expectations were low heading into Saturday. My bad. Saturday was nearly shocking, unpredictable, and despite few close game, an entertaining week to be a football fan
3-7 (0-6 OVC)
#24 Tennessee State
7-3 (4-2 OVC)
#2 Eastern Illinois
8-1 (5-0 OVC)
6-3 (4-1 OVC)
5-4 (3-2 OVC)
2-7 (1-4 OVC)
6-3 (4-2 OVC)
7-2 (3-2 OVC)
0-9 (0-5 OVC)
TENNESSEE TECH 21, EASTERN ILLINOIS 56
CB: Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Jimmy Garoppolo throws for nearly 400 yards, Erik Lora catches three touchdown passes, and EIU storms past Tennessee Tech to remain in control of the OVC. You probably should have stopped me at “Jimmy Garoppolo throws.”
I could go over the gaudy offensive numbers, but we expect that. My biggest question: how were the special teams? Not bad, actually. EIU converted all eight extra-point attempts, and didn’t attempt (and therefore, didn’t miss) a field goal. They did go on fourth down five times, but that’s to be expected given the strengths and weakness (singular, there’s really only one) of this team.
Don’t read too much into TTU’s 21 points: 14 were scored in the fourth quarter, when the game was already well out of hand. The Golden Eagles managed just 281 yards of total offense, and the quarterbacking wasn’t great: Jared Davis hit just 11 of 27 passes, and while Darian Stone was 7 for 11, he had just 15 yards passing.
TENNESSEE STATE 0, EASTERN KENTUCKY 44
CB: WHAT. THE. HELL.
Seriously? What happened in Richmond? We haven’t heard a lot out of Eastern Kentucky as of late, as they hit the soft part of their schedule. The Colonels winning isn’t necessarily surprising, but shutting out Tennessee State? A good TSU program that really looked like a potential FCS playoff contender, a TSU program that was leading the OVC, and near the top of the FCS, in total defense.
This wasn’t what was supposed to happen. So how did it?
Four lost fumbles by the Tigers, for one, two of which were inside their own 10. But those turnovers only led to 17 of EKU’s 44 points.
I’ve been warning for weeks that freshman quarterback Ronald Butler, while having a good completion percentage, wasn’t stretching the field. That rang very true this week. Butler hit 15 of 29 passes, but threw for just 101 yards. The TSU rushing attack could never get off the ground, and the Tigers were held to 178 yards of offense.
Despite the final score, EKU’s offense didn’t exactly have a field day. Jared McClain threw just 14 passes, but led the team in rushing. The Colonels put up 305 yards of offense, but won the battle of field position all afternoon. Eastern Kentucky had four-straight touchdown drives of 55-yards of more, giving the Colonels a big lead. No other possession was longer than four plays.
URBANA UNIVERSITY 35, SOUTHEAST MISSOURI 37
CB: To repeat a phrase from earlier…WHAT. THE. HELL.
I didn’t give much of a preview to this game, because Urbana is a Division II school. The Redhawks should have no problem with the Blue Knights, I thought. SEMO beat Murray State, put up a lot of points against Eastern Illinois, they’ll be fine, I said to myself.
Note to self: stop thinking.
Urbana jumped out to a 14-0 lead behind two players I really think could easily play in the OVC: quarterback D.J. Mendenhall and running back David Hill. Urbana put up 425 yards of offense, and led in the fourth quarter.
The good news here for SEMO is their offense was mostly good, and had to be to win. It absolutely should be in this kind of game, but it’s not necessarily a given. Despite throwing for two touchdowns, quarterback Scott Lathrop had a rough day — 7-11 passing, throwing two interceptions. Thankfully the running game averaged 4.7 yards a rush on 55 attempts.
MURRAY STATE 17, UT MARTIN 45
TV: The Racers and Skyhawks battled at a windy Graham Stadium, it was the Skyhawks offense carrying them to their third straight win over Murray State with to the 45-17 victory.
With quarterback Jarod Neal playing for the majority of the game, the Skyhawks balanced attack put up 522 yards on the Racers terrible defense. It was D.J. McNeil rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns while wide receiver Jeremy Butler caught nine passes for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Skyhawks defense stiffed the Racers passing game holding starting quarterback Maikhail Miller to just 96 yards passing before being replaced. Thad Williams led the Skyhawk defense intercepting two Racers passes.
Speaking of Miller, the Racers seemed to pull him just too late in the game. After a first half that saw the Racers use the ground game after his first interception, the halftime adjustment was to pass the ball. This worked until Miller tossed his second interception of the game and was benched. The Racers only bright spot on the day was running back Jaamal Berry who ran for 134 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.
JACKSONVILLE STATE 42, AUSTIN PEAY 10
ZW: Jacksonville State rolled over Austin Peay, racking up twelve points of two Peay turnovers. JSU defensive back Rashod Byers returned an interception 95 yards to put the Gamecocks on the board early, and they never looked back.
Kyle West got his first career start for Jacksonville State, the third quarterback to start for the Gamecocks this year. The redshirt sophomore completed 18 passes for 188 yards, but the real story of the night was running back DaMarcus James. James scored a school record five touchdowns on the ground and likely cemented himself as a first team all-OVC selection. Freshman wide receiver Josh Barge also set a school record for the best freshman season among receivers with 38 catches for 547 yards.
Austin Peay’s struggles on offense continued. Quarterback Timarous Mitchell completed only four passes. Jacob Sexton also played the quarterback position, throwing two interceptions in three pass attempts. The one bright spot of the day was running back Omar Williams‘s 179 rushing yards. He will need to continue to get the ball for the Governors to score points.]
The game ended as expected, but the verdict is still uncertain for the Gamecocks. Does the game prove JSU will survive some difficult injuries, or did Austin Peay’s struggles this year mask a sub-par team? Let us know in the comments.