Western Illinois returning talent from last year

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Almost one year ago, the Eastern football team went into Macomb to take on Western looking to open their season with a win, but came away with a 33-5 loss instead.

Now it is 2016, and the Panthers will be welcoming in the Leathernecks with a chance to turn the tables on them and open the season with a win. The win won’t come easy; Western is returning the keys to last season’s opening game win.

Junior kicker Nick Bruno got the Panthers on the board first against Western three minutes into the game, but it was all downhill from there for Eastern. The Leathernecks went on to score 23 straight points before the Panthers added two more on a blocked extra point return for junior Bradley Dewberry.

The explosive Western offense came from three players who are all back in 2016. Trenton Norvell threw for 189 yards completing 18 of his 35 passes including one touchdown.

Western also had two running backs make impacts on the game. Steve McShane and Devon Moore did not rack up the yards like the Panthers’ running game did, but Moore did find his way into the end zone on two occasions, which in itself was enough to down Eastern in 2015.

Now that was last year, and it is 2016 now, and Eastern finished their season with success after losing the first three games and things changed for both squads

Nikko Watson ended up leading the way in the backfield for Western racking up 1223 yards on 262 rushing attempts, including 14 touchdowns. Norvell remained the starting quarterback finishing the season with 13 touchdown passes and a 55.24 completion percentage.

Both teams will have a new look when they hit the field at 6 p.m. on Thursday at O’Brien Field.

Sean Hastings can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]