Football: A look around the OVC


Victor Gomez

Devin Church outruns an Austin Peay defender Saturday at O’Brien Field. Church carried the ball 16 times for 139-yards and one touchdown in the 56-35 win over the visiting Governors.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

After a three-week preseason, the Eastern football time started off conference play with a 56-35 win. Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri both came away with wins in their opening OVC games.

The Panthers were led by breakout performances by redshirt junior quarterback Austin Green and redshirt senior running back Devin Church. Eastern is at 1-0 and atop the OVC. Conference foe Jacksonville State was not in OVC action on Saturday.

With the win, the Panthers continued to move up in the FCS rankings to No. 13 in the nation. The Panthers have an FCS win over Illinois State, ranked No. 5 at the time and has since moved to No. 20 over the last week.

Tennessee Tech and Murray State were also in action on Saturday but each found itself 0-1 to start their quest to an OVC Championship.

Just like Eastern, Tennessee Martin put a lot of points, winning 44-23 over Tennessee Tech.

Tennessee-Martin put up 366 yards of total offense, 269 of those through the air.

Tennessee Tech is now 1-1 after opening its season with a win over Austin Peay.

Tennessee-Martin never let off the gas against Tennessee Tech, scoring on an 86-yard touchdown pass on the game’s final play. They also pulled off a 43-yard onside kick return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

Southeast Missouri’s win over Murray State was a little different. The game came down to the final seconds and down to the foot of Murray State’s kicker Connor Mitchell.

Mitchell had a chance to be the hero for Murray State in the OVC opener, but instead sent his 38-yard field goal attempt wide left with two seconds left in the game to give Southeast Missouri the win.

Southeast Missouri trailed Murray State 16-10 with less than two minutes remaining in the game and came up with a huge defensive stop, forcing the Racers to go three-and-out.

SEMO took over on downs and quarterback Jesse Hosket hit Tyler McLemore for a 31-yard gain and on the next play found Adrian Davis for the eventually game-winner.

Eastern will hit the road and bring its three-game win streak to Southeast Missouri to take on the Redhawks.

The Panthers came out on top 33-28 in last years meeting with the Redhawks. Junior kicker Nick Bruno hit two field goals for the Panthers in the game. Church and redshirt junior wide receiver Addison Bounds scored two touchdowns in the win.

Church has had a 30-yard touchdown run and a 50-yard touchdown run in the past two games for the Panthers. Bounds has a touchdown reception against Illinois State.

The favorite to win the OVC, Jacksonville State is 3-1 overall but has yet to play a conference game. Its latest game was a 48-19 blowout over Liberty on the road.

If things shape up like they did last year, it will come down to Eastern’s matchup with the Gamecocks later in the season. The Panthers will play two more games following the matchup with the Gamecocks.

Jacksonville State opens OVC play at Tennessee Tech next weekend.

All the teams will be in OVC matchups next weekend as well.


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