Whitlow sets record in Eastern’s 63-7 win

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Jason Howell

Junior quarterback Jalen Whitlow runs with the ball down field against Austin Peay Saturday at O’Brien Field. Whitlow set an Eastern record, with 137 rushing yards by a quarterback, as the Panthers won 63-7.

Aldo Soto , Sports Editor

Jalen Whitlow set a new Eastern single-game rushing record by a quarterback, gaining 137 yards on the ground, scoring two rushing touchdowns, propelling the Panthers past Austin Peay 63-7 Saturday at O’Brien Field.

Eastern improved to 1-3 on the season, starting Ohio Valley Conference play with a resounding win over the Governors.

Whitlow’s 137 rushing yards surpassed Joe Davis’ 134-yard record that he set in 1968 against Bradley. Whitlow also threw a pair of touchdown passes to red-shirt senior Taylor Duncan.

On a day that Eastern did not have starting running back Shepard Little, the Panthers rushed for 413 yards, which tied a school record that was set against Jacksonville State last season.

“I just tried to execute the plays that were called,” Whitlow said. “We had some running lanes and we got some yards.”

Entering the game, Eastern rushed for a total of 405 through its first three games. Whitlow gave all the credit to the men blocking in front of him and the Panthers’ running backs.

“I have to give all the credit to the offensive line,” he said. “The running lanes were there because of those guys. Clearing it out – those guys played a great game.”

Whitlow scored his second rushing touchdown with 8:45 left in the first half, taking the ball in from the six-yard line. His first touchdown run capped off a 12-play, 84-yard drive in the first quarter, when he also scored from six yards out.

Jimmy Lera had 12 carries for 73 yards and also scored two rushing touchdowns. As a team, Eastern scored six rushing touchdowns.

Whitlow, who averaged 9.1 yards per carry, was also efficient passing. He completed 13-of-15 passes for 159 yards. He threw 11 and five-yard touchdown passes to Duncan, with one coming in each half.

Eastern head coach Kim Dameron won his first game of his coaching career and also for the first time this season played one quarterback from the first quarter into the second half. Red-shirt senior Andrew Manley came in to play in the third quarter, when Eastern was already leading 49-7.

“I felt we didn’t do much of the QB run play in the first couple games and we felt that we’re in league (play) and this was the week to break it out,” Dameron said.

Heading into the Austin Peay matchup, Dameron said he told offensive coordinator Greg Stevens that Eastern needed to run the ball.

“After three weeks of being disappointed in our offensive points production and our number of turnovers, all I asked coach Stevens to do is run the football and not turnover the football,” Dameron said.

Along with a record-tying number of rushing yards, Eastern also finished the game with zero turnovers – the first time the Panthers have accomplished that this season.

It took Eastern four games to win a game this season, but starting with a victory in conference play is what Dameron is most concerned with at this point in the season.

“I was really kind of hoping (our first win) would have been a couple of weeks ago or three, but it is what it is,” he said. “We’re 1-0 in the OVC right now and that’s really what we care about.”

Aldo Soto can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]