The last undefeated team in the league fell Saturday when #21 Eastern Illinois knocked off Tennessee State in Charleston. With Tennessee State suffering a loss in league play it means that Jax State (1-0 OVC) is now in the driver’s seat for the conference championship.
In other news: EKU got their first Division-I win of the season to improve to 2-3 when they defeated SEMO in Richmond
and Austin Peay lost a game. …Austin Peay losing isn’t really news at this point, is it?
Oh well, let’s get dig into what went down this past weekend in the OVC.
Austin Peay 31 UT-Martin 45
Austin Peay looked like a hot mess going into halftime down 31 to 7. They had fumbled away the ball twice and allowed UT-Martin to get a four possession lead by halftime. However, the Austin Peay team that went into the locker rooms at halftime was not the same one that started the third quarter. Austin Peay stepped up at the beginning of the third by forcing a fumble on the Skyhawk’s opening drive that kept the Skyhawks out of the red zone. Peay put up three then let UT-M score twice to widen the lead to 45-10. The Govs then went on to rack up 219 yards and 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter to close the gap to the final of 31-45. Quarterbacks for both teams had a good day as APSU’s Timarious Mitchell went 17/23 (73.9%) for 227 yards and two touchdowns whereas Skyhawk’s shot caller Troy Cook completed 17 of his 21 attempts (81%) for 253 yards and three touchdowns.
UT-Martin will look to get above .500 as they head to Murray State to take on the 1-4 Racers and Austin Peay will drop out of the frying pan and into the fire as they head to Jacksonville to take on the #2 Gamecocks.
Eastern Kentucky 31 Southeast Missouri State 16
Remember when I said the Colonel’s wouldn’t win if they continued to rely solely on Bennie Coney in the preview last week? Well this week the Colonels didn’t just rely on Coney’s arm, they also ran the ball a 52 times for 190 yards and they sent SEMO home with an L. Despite all the rushing Coney still put up the biggest numbers in the OVC on the day. The redshirt senior accounted for 337 yards as he went 23 of 37 for four touchdowns and a pick. His favorite target on the day was senior wideout Devin Borders who hauled in 7 catches for 119 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Redhawks could get their running game established and it hurt them in the end. The Redhawks had 26 rushes for 101 yards, which doesn’t sound too bad until you consider that 45 yards of it came off of one run by senior running back Will Young. Aside from that one run the Redhawks only averaged 2.2 yard per carry.
Eastern Kentucky will head to Nashville this weekend to take on 4-1 Tennessee State and SEMO will have a bye before heading to Tennessee Tech on the 22nd.
Tennessee State 34 #21 Eastern Illinois 35
EIU escaped with a narrow win over the previously undefeated Tigers. Tigers kicker Lane Clark missed a 46 yard field goal attempt with 3:00 left in the fourth that would have given TSU a 37-35 lead. The Tigers forced an EIU punt five plays later and with only 36 seconds left couldn’t make it back into field goal range. The Panther’s defensive line are the unsung heros of this game. The Panther’s defensive line held the Tigers to just 76 yards rushing on 35 carries and kept pressure on Ronald Butler all day. Panther’s defensive end David Johnson was awarded OVC co-Defensive Player of the Week honors his 9 tackle performance Saturday. The junior had 9 tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss on Saturday. With their win over Tennessee State EIU is now second in the OVC standings behind the undefeated Gamecocks and are tied with UT-Martin and SEMO.
Eastern Illinois will travel to Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State will host Eastern Kentucky in Nissan Stadium.
#2 Jacksonville State 40 Tennessee Tech 21
Senior Gamecock running back Josh Clemons had a career day as he rushed for 110 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Golden Eagles. JSU had 249 rushing yards and 4 rushing touchdowns as the muscled their way past Tennessee Tech. The JSU defense also had a big day as they forced five turnovers and held Tech to 229 total yards and only 62 yards rushing. Tennessee Tech only had 67 total yards going into halftime and had gone three and out (or had a turnover) on 5 of their first 6 drives. Tennessee Tech quarterback Michael Birdsong had his worst game of the season as he went 19 for 32 for 167 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Despite a good performance on the stat sheet JSU still has a lot of work to do if they want to have another deep run in the playoffs. Penalties are still a major issue and special teams MUST get better.
JSU fans should also be thanking Eastern Illinois. With EIU’s win over Tennessee State this weekend JSU is in the driver’s seat for the OVC.
JSU will host Austin Peay this weekend and Tennessee Tech will host #21 Eastern Illinois.
Murray State enjoyed a bye week. They will host UT-Martin this weekend.
Jacksonville State Gamecocks (4-1, 1-0 OVC)
Eastern Illinois Panthers (4-2, 2-1 OVC)
Tennessee State Tigers (4-1, 1-1 OVC)
UT-Martin Skyhawks (3-3, 2-1 OVC)
Eastern Kentucky Colonels (2-3, 1-1 OVC
Southeast Missouri Redhawks (2-4, 2-1 OVC)
Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (2-4, 2-2 OVC)
Murray State Racers (1-4, 1-1 OVC)
Austin Peay Governors (0-5, 0-4 OVC)