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Football: A bad loss left in the rearview mirror

The Panther football team was out of the game early Saturday night at Eastern Kentucky. When all was said and done the Panthers found themselves on the short end of a 49-6 scoreboard.

“It was really weird because before the game we were really confident,” quarterback Matt Schabert said. “Coming into the game we knew we had the best offense yards-per-game wise in the Ohio Valley Conference.”

Schabert said the loss doesn’t change anything, he’s still confident the Panthers will rebound and compete for the OVC championship.

“Those guys just had a plan for us,” Schabert said. “They knew what they wanted to do, and they got it done. We took our lumps, and now it’s time to get back to basics.”

The Panthers are now 2-3 overall and 1-1 in the OVC.

Eastern lost its first two games by a combined seven points and watched double digit fourth quarter leads slip away in each of their first two contests. As hard as it is to recover from losses like that, the Panthers did just that, in rare fashion, beating Division I-A Eastern Michigan in their third game of the season.

This past weekend Head Coach Bob Spoo said watching his team lose the way it did was much harder than the way they lost the first two contests.

“When you’re not even competitive and you’ve prepared all week to be competitive it’s hard to take,” Spoo said. “The first couple of games we were only a couple plays away from winning. We never had a chance last weekend.”

Eastern Kentucky scored 42 of their 49 points in the first half. The Colonels used their own 45 yard-line as a drive starting average, which didn’t hurt their chances of unleashing an offensive onslaught.

“Five of their seven touchdowns came from inside our 30-yard line,” Spoo said. “The odds of scoring inside the opponents’ 30-yard line must be two out of three.”

“Anything that could have gone wrong did,” Schabert said. “But the good thing is it only counts as one loss. We still can run the table and get a piece of the OVC championship.”

So far this season the Panther special teams have struggled, and they have been penalized quite a bit.

Against Eastern Kentucky the Panthers had five turnovers, which the Colonels turned into 28 points and they also had nine penalties good for 72 yards.

“You can’t have as many turnovers and penalties as we had and expect to win the football game,” Spoo said. “They had momentum the whole time. When we did do something good, we were constantly shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s just a series of circumstances we put ourselves in.”

Schabert reiterated Spoo’s point but said it was just one bad game and the whole team knows that and understands what it has to do to get back on track.

“We’re already over it,” Schabert said. “It stung on the bus ride home, but we’re over it. It’s just one of those things you shake your head at and let it go.”

This weekend the Panthers host Murray State at O’Brien Stadium for their homecoming game. Spoo said sometimes homecoming and all the festivities that come with it could be distracting to a football team, but hopes his team took last weekend’s loss to heart so they will play through those distractions and get a win.

“It feels like just another week to us,” Schabert said. “We had a good practice Sunday and we’ll continue to get focused and prepared this week.

“If we play like we’re capable of playing we’ll bare with the homecoming distractions and make sure we’re focused.”

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