Whitlow, Johnson receive weekly awards


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, Assistant Sports Editor

Eastern quarterback Jalen Whitlow was named co-Ohio Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week, following the Panthers’ win Saturday over Austin Peay.

Whitlow, who transferred from Kentucky, set a new Eastern rushing record from a quarterback, carrying the ball 15 times for 137 yards, while scoring two touchdowns and throwing two more.

The junior started his third game this season and for the first time, Eastern head coach Kim Dameron kept Whitlow into the second half.

In the Panthers first three games, Whitlow and red-shirt senior Andrew Manley shared playing time. Dameron said the main reason Whitlow played the majority of the game against Austin Peay was because of his running ability.

“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.

Whitlow also passed for 159 yards on 13-of-15 pass attempts.

Eastern defensive back Antoine Johnson also earned conference honors, as the junior defensive back was named OVC Specialist of the Week.

Johnson blocked Ben Campbell’s punt at the 12-yard line in the third quarter, with the Panthers leading 42-7. As players scrambled to locate the ball, Johnson raced toward the end zone, where the ball landed after he blocked it. He secured it for an Eastern touchdown that gave the Panthers a 49-7 lead with 9:37 remaining in the quarter.

Next opponent

Eastern heads into its second game against an FBS team, as the Panthers play Ohio of the MAC at 1 p.m. Saturday in Athens, Ohio.

Saturday’s matchup is the first meeting between both teams. Last season, Eastern lost to Northern Illinois, which is also in the MAC, 43-39.

The Bobcats are 2-2 and are coming off a 36-24 home win against Idaho. Ohio scored more than 17 points for the first time since its season opener on Aug. 30, when the Bobcats beat Kent State 17-14.

Ohio head coach Frank Solich said his team is preparing the same way this week as it would against an FBS-level opponent.

“We know the quality of the program and the quality of the players (Eastern) has,” Solich said. “We’ll prepare for this one the same way we prepare for all of our football games. Every game, if you’re not playing your best you can be defeated.”

Since 1989, Eastern has five wins against FBS programs, with four of those coming against teams from the MAC. The latest win over a MAC team for the Panthers was on Sept. 25, 2004, when they defeated Eastern Michigan 31-28.

The Panthers lost 42-20 to Minnesota to start their season this year. Eastern is 1-2 in its last three games against FBS schools.

Around the OVC

Southeast Missouri defeated Southeastern Louisiana 24-23 Saturday in Cape Girardeau, Mo., as Paul McRoberts caught a two-yard game-winning touchdown pass with four seconds left.

McRoberts and quarterback Kyle Snyder led the Redhawks defeat the school’s highest-ranked opponent in program history as Southeastern Louisiana entered the game ranked No. 3 in the FCS.

McRoberts finished the game with seven catches for 89 yards and two touchdown receptions. Snyder completed 16-of-31 passes for 141 yards to go along with his pair of touchdown passes. He also carried the ball 17 times for 95 yards.

Snyder’s biggest run came with the final seconds ticking off the clock. On 3rd-and-10, 17 yards away from the end zone, Snyder rushed for 15 yards up the middle of the field down to the two-yard line. The next play he delivered the game-winning touchdown pass to McRoberts. Both players were named co-OVC Offensive Player of the Week.

The Redhawks improved to 2-2 and begin conference play at Tennessee-Martin at 6 p.m. Saturday.

Eastern Kentucky remained undefeated, as the Colonels beat Tennessee-Martin 49-24 on the road to begin OVC play at 1-0 and improved to 4-0 overall. The Colonels are the only team in the conference without a loss.

Running back Dy’Shawn Mobley scored three rushing touchdowns, running for 183 yards for Eastern Kentucky. He had 11 carries, averaging 16.6 yards per attempt.

Mobley had touchdown runs of 14, 68 and a career-high 75 yards, which came in the third quarter. He was also named co-OVC Newcomer of the Week along with Eastern’s Whitlow.

Both Whitlow and Mobley were teammates at Kentucky for the previous two seasons before transferring to their respective schools in the OVC.

Aldo Soto (@AldoSoto21) can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]