The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

Garoppolo, Ricks flourish in passing game

Freshman quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and Lorence Ricks, red-shirt junior wide receiver, connected with each other for the first 14 Eastern points Saturday.

Ricks was able to get behind the cornerback that was covering him on both touchdowns, including his first that was a 45-yard pass.

The touchdown reception was Ricks’ longest of the game. It was also Garoppolo’s longest pass of the game. Ricks’ other touchdown was a 28-yarder.

Garoppolo was 26-of-35 for 356 yards and four touchdowns Saturday, earning the Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week honor.

Ricks said the offensive success came as a result of the offense being able to throw more deep passes to open up the play calling.

The offensive line, Ricks said, gave a great effort Saturday and allowed Garoppolo time to throw the ball. Garoppolo was only sacked two times in the game.

“(Garoppolo) had more time to get the ball out and that opened up the offense,” Rick said.

Eastern head coach Bob Spoo said Garoppolo made good decisions with the ball Saturday, and made some good throws.

Three of Garoppolo’s touchdown passes were for more than 28-yards. The other touchdown pass came on an 8-yard grab by sophomore Erik Lora.

The second and third touchdowns came on the same play as Garoppolo ran a play action and rolled out to the right. On the second touchdown of the game, Garoppolo had three receiver options – all three were running to the right side of the field.

On the second touchdown, Ricks, the deep man who had started the play on the left side of the formation, got behind his coverage man and caught Garoppolo’s deep pass.

On Lora’s touchdown, he was the middleman. Ricks was running deep again and a tight end was running a short route. Lora caught the ball and ran into the end zone. The third touchdown gave Eastern the 21-14 lead it would take into halftime.

James, Haynes, big plays

In a 14-14 game, Eastern’s defense stopped a Murray State as the Racers were driving down the field in the redzone.

Murray State running back Duane Brady rushed for 10 yards on a second down play before getting caught in the middle of a scrum filled with players from both teams.

As it appeared the scrum was moving toward the sideline, senior cornerback CJ James ran out of the scrum with the football in his hand and a lot of open field.

“I thought I was going to score until I got about five yards out of the play,” James said.

James was exhausted and said he knew he wasn’t going to end up scoring on the play.

After the game, everyone – including the coaches – was wondering how James came out of the scrum with the ball.

“I’m wondering the same thing,” defensive coordinator Roc Bellantoni said.

Even red-shirt junior linebacker Cory Leman didn’t have a clue.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” Leman said.

James said he saw Brady reaching out with the ball, so he ran up and took it out of his hands.

“I reached in the pile and took it away,” James said.

In the second half, with Eastern trailing, red-shirt senior cornerback Rashad Haynes made a similar play, but the way he did it was much more clear.

Murray State quarterback Casey Brockman completed a two-yard pass to Arthur Brackett, but Haynes had both of his arms around the ball and used his strength to strip it out of Brackett’s hands and return it six yards.

Bellantoni had to adjust

After the game Saturday, Bellantoni said his defense needed some time to adjust to the speed at which Murray State’s offense was playing.

Although the Racers played the offense that Bellantoni was expecting, Bellantoni said he specifically needed to adjust to help the defense out.

“We knew they were going to gain yards, going to score points,” Bellantoni said. “We knew we’d bleed. We just had to adjust.”

Bellantoni said the defense did a good job of adjusting to Murray State’s offense. He said the defense came up with some big stops and impressed him.

“I thought we stopped them,” Bellantoni said.

James said the defense might have not adjusted fast enough to catch up to Murray State.

“We didn’t come out like we wanted to,” James said. “We have to adjust quicker.”

Eastern will play in its home finale Saturday against Austin Peay at 1:30 p.m. at O’Brien Field.

Alex McNamee can be reached at 581-7944 or [email protected].

Garoppolo, Ricks flourish in passing game

Garoppolo, Ricks flourish in passing game

CJ James, a senior cornerback stops Rashad Daniels a senior wide reciever from Murray State University Saturday during Eastern’s homecoming game. Murray State beat Eastern 38-28. (Danny Damiani


Leave a Comment

Comments (0)

Commenting on the Daily Eastern News web site is a privilege, not a right. We reserve the right to remove comments that contain obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language. Also, comments containing personal attacks or threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
All The Daily Eastern News Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest