Depth-filled Panthers head to SEMO


Justin Brown

Redshirt senior Shawn Mitchell Jr. breaks away from ISU defenders Saturday, Sept. 17 at Hancock Stadium. The Panthers held on to defeat the Redbirds 24-21 to move to No. 16 in the FCS standings.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Through the first four games of the season, the Panthers have proven no matter who is in at any given position; they will get the job done.

Coach Kim Dameron has two quarterbacks ready to go at all times and ready to start if the need arises. That was the case last week as redshirt quarterback Austin Green made his first career start. And Green did not disappoint.

The quarterback position is not the only place where the Panthers have depth. Eastern has relied on four running backs this season, the latest being redshirt junior running back Christopher Anderson making his Eastern debut.

He racked up 129 yards to go along with two touchdowns to help the Panthers to a 56-35 win over Austin Peay Saturday.

Even though some of the players are in their first years of action, they still have gained some key experience that will be needed again this weekend when the Eastern hits the road to take on Southeast Missouri.

Last week’s scoreboard and stat sheet show Eastern rolled over the Austin Peay Governors, but Dameron was not all that pleased with how they played and said they need to be better.

The Eastern defense had been so strong in the previous three games, but fell apart against Austin Peay allowing the Governors to hang around with an Eastern offense that scored 56 points on 641 yards.

Dameron said it was a battle all day and Austin Peay was very well prepared, but Eastern was able to make more key plays down the stretch.

The Panthers moved to No. 13 in the FCS following the win over Austin Peay after starting the season just outside the top 25.

SEMO is coming in 1-0 after just getting by Murray State, who had a chance to win the game as time expired, but kicker Connor Mitchell sent a 38-yard field goal wide right.

It was the Redhawks’ first win of the season and it came in the final two minutes of the game. Southeast Missouri took over on downs and their own 42-yard line and marched down the field trailing 16-10 and scored a touchdown to take 17-16 lead and hold off Murray State.

Quarterback Jesse Hosket threw two touchdown passes on 257 yards passing. He also threw one interception, but was not very accurate with his passes, finishing 19-of-44.

SEMO; however, could not get a run game going, leading rusher Will Young was only able to total 38 yards on 16 carries.

The Panthers came out on top of a tight game against SEMO last year.

“We had a big game last year against them,” wide receiver Aaron Gooch said. “It came down to a Hail Mary, so we’re pretty excited.

SEMO had a last second throw to the end zone in hopes of getting the ball to come down into a receiver’s hands, but Eastern’s defense held strong.

It took a few games for the Panthers to get the running game going, and now that is going and a strong passing attack from either Green or redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Kimble, sophomore wide receiver Paul Gossage said the offensive flow can continue.

He said they have to stay focused on not look to far ahead.

No matter who is in at quarterback, Gossage and the rest of the Panthers are confident in both Green and Kimble.

“They’re both better in different ways,” Gossage said. “Mitch is better on the ground, but they’re both very talented quarterbacks and we knew coming into the season that each of them could start. We’re very confident in them.

Gossage said he and the rest of the receivers expect a more physical game from SEMO compared to Austin Peay. He said the defensive backs come up and challenge the receivers.

Eastern will come back home after Saturday’s matchup with SEMO to take on Tennessee State Saturday, Oct 8.

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