The OVC’s bid for two teams into the FCS playoffs might have taken a step back but the automatic bid went to the defending champs. In a game that we didn’t focus much attention on in Clarksville, the Govs and Redhawks played a nail-biter in the final game at Govornor Stadium.
Eastern Illinois wins championship in 52-14 blowout of Gamecocks
ZW: Put a bow on the OVC season, folks. The EIU Panthers are the back-to-back champs.Eastern Illinois is the first team to repeat as outright champs since the ‘03 & ‘04 JSU squads. Four words describe EIU’s performance today: harder, better, faster, stronger. The Panthers set a school record for points scored in a quarter with 35 points in the first frame. Before Jacksonville State even had a chance to get settled in, they were in a hole so deep they could not see daylight.
For Eastern Illinois, running back Shephard Little had a monster game, racking up 245 yards and two touchdowns. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo had a modest game, but he did catch a halfback pass from Little for a touchdown. The offense finished the day with 595 yards with an incredible 413 yards on the ground. The defense played well and forced a season-high three Jacksonville State fumbles.
Jacksonville State’s first drive set the tone for the game: a fumble on 3rd down by quarterback Max Shortell. Due to the wind, the Gamecocks were unable to stretch the field, and they faced eight-man fronts all day. The one bright spot for the offense was running back DaMarcus James breaking the JSU record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 20. The defense had a tough time as expected.
With today’s win, Eastern Illinois will likely get a first round bye in the playoffs. Can EIU break the OVC curse and make a run in the playoffs? Let us know in the comments below.
UT Martin earns first victory in Richmond
TV: For the first time in program history, UT Martin traveled to Roy Kidd Stadium and came up with a 16-7 victory. After a first play fumble by EKU, the Skyhawks relied on the leg of kicker Jackson Redditt who made 38 and 51 yard field goals for the early 6-0 lead. Running back D.J. McNeil rumbled into the endzone from nine yards out for the 13-0 halftime lead.
The Colonels once again used dual quarterbacks after Jared McClain struggled in the first half going five of nine for 29 yards. Backup quarterback Kyle Romano entered the game and gave the stagnant Colonel offense a much needed boost after only getting 52 yards in the first half.
Romano would score on a QB sneak to cut the lead to 13-7 but a pair of interceptions doomed the Colonels who dropped their third OVC game of the year. For the Skyhawks, quarterbacks Dylan Favre and Jarod Neal combined for 156 yards. Running back Abou Toure erupted for his second straight 100 yard game.
Redhawks keep Austin Peay winless with a 36-34 thriller
ZW: Today’s battle at the bottom half of the conference was quite entertaining. Both schools rushed for over 300 yards, and both actually looked good on offense. Unfortunately for the Governors, an early turnover was the difference in the game.
SEMO’s three-headed rushing attack of Jackson, Lathrop, and Washington led the way for the Redhawks. Running back DeMichael Jackson had the majority of the carries, resulting in over 130 yards. Quarterback Scott Lathrop passed for 79 yards and rushed for another 88. Backup running back Lewis Washington made the most of limited touches as well. Running back Ron Coleman only had 21 yards, but he reached the touchdown four times for the Redhawks.
Austin Peay cannot catch a break this year. A fumble early in the second quarter resulted in a SEMO touchdown, and the Govs played from behind for the majority of the game. Running backs Rashaan Coleman and Omar Williams rushed the Governors to a furious comeback in the second half, but it was not enough to get Austin Peay their first win of the season.
Next week, SEMO travels to Jacksonville State, and Austin Peay has one final shot at a win against Tennessee Tech on the road.
Tennessee State rallies for 17-10 win over Murray State
TV: Down 10-0 in the first quarter, Tennessee State would find a way for score 17 consecutive points to end the season with a 17-10 victory at LP Field.
The Racers came out confident, shredding the Tigers defense for 246 yards of offense in the first half. That was good for Murray State but only 25 yards in the second half wasn’t enough as the Tigers found rhythm in the second half. With running back Tim Broughton injured in the first quarter, the Tigers never quit attitude was shown.
WIth the game 10-3 Murray State, the Tigers used a 9 plays 67 yard drive to get the victory as quarterback Ronald Butler threw a jump ball to tight end Wesley Samuels for the tying score. After a three and out, the Tigers marched down the field and got the game-winning 19 yard score from running back Telvin Hooks.
Murray State stuck it out with junior quarterback Parks Frazier who completed 12 straight passes in the first quarter and was 30 of 43 for 247 yards with a touchdown and interception.
The Tigers are now done for the season and we are left wondering if one of the nation’s top defenses will be selected for an at-large bid into the FCS Playoffs. With solid losses but no quality win to point to, you wonder if this game keeps the Tigers home for good.
Thanks to Dominic Baima of The Daily Eastern News for capturing and letting us use photos from the Eastern Illinois championship celebration.