Big plays by Southeast Missouri down Panthers


Justin Brown

Korliss Marshall runs into a wall of SEMO defenders Saturday at Houck Stadium. Marshall carried the ball 8 times for 18 yards in the Panthers 21-14 loss.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor


Cape Girardeau, Mo. — On two separate plays, Eastern’s defense bit on a play fake by Southeast Missouri, and it resulted in two wide-open receivers for touchdowns.

The big plays were the difference as Eastern left Houck Stadium with a 21-14 loss.

If there is such thing as a perfect pass, SEMO’s quarterback Jesse Hosket threw it to Adrian Davis for a 62-yard strike to give the Redhawks an early 14-0 in the first quarter. Davis found his way past the Eastern defense and was open down field for Hosket to float the ball into his arms.

On an almost identical play in the third quarter, the Eastern defense bit again and left Marquette Murdock open across the middle of the field for another long 45-yard touchdown for Southeast Missouri.

Those are just two plays out of the 61 the Redhawks’ ran, but the long plays hurt the Panthers in the end.

“Too many mistakes. Two big plays is too much,” redshirt senior safety Pono Choy said. “(Defense) is something we pride ourselves on. That’s two mistakes that shouldn’t have happened.

Choy tied the game for the Panthers in the third quarter by picking up a fumble and taking it into the end zone. Hosket’s pass went backward resulting it being a live ball and Choy able to pick it up and score.

What could have been a momentum changer for the Panthers, turned into Eastern kicking the ball off to SEMO, and seven plays later the Redhawks were back in the lead.

With 11:13 left in the third quarter, Murdock caught the 45-yard pass for a touchdown, for what would be the game winner.

Last week, the Eastern defense also struggled, but the Eastern offense bailed them out putting up 56 points to go along with 641 yards of total offense. That was not the case against Southeast Missouri.

Coach Kim Dameron said the Redhawks played “their hind end off” on defense and he takes his hat off to how SEMO was able to stop Eastern.

The Panthers could not put together drives that put themselves in position to score. Eastern’s only offensive touchdown run was an 18-yard run by redshirt junior running back Christopher Anderson.

Anderson ran over a SEMO defender at the line and used a burst of speed to go by everyone else.

Eastern had two other situations where they were in scoring position but both times came away with no points.

These happened on back-to-back possessions. The best chance for the Panthers to score came with 8:20 left in the second quarter at SEMO’s 10-yard line. Eastern was facing a 3rd and 2 situation when redshirt junior quarterback Austin Green and Anderson were not on the same page with a toss play.

SEMO recovered at the 10-yard line. Eastern got the ball back after a fake punt by the Redhawks failed. But again, Eastern was not able to convert. This drive ended with a missed 46-yard field goal by junior kicker Nick Bruno.

It would have been the longest of his Eastern career, but he sent it wide right.

As time was expiring in the half, Eastern had the ball at the SEMO 33-yard line with near 20 seconds left and opted to run the clock out rather than get another play in.

“We were moving the ball but the time was getting really short,” Dameron said. “We went out and threw a pass and the ball was batted down and almost intercepted. I was not going to turn the ball over again right before half and give them a chance to get the ball down the field. So basically I said pull the plug.”

Eastern threatened to score at the end of the game, but went for it on 4th and 16, but turned it over on downs.

Eastern faced a 3rd and 16 situation at the SEMO 31-yard line with just under 6 minutes left and Green’s pass was batted down — something Dameron was not planning on happening.

He said at that point, with 5:40 left, they had nothing to lose in going for it.

Eastern is 1-1 in OVC play now and will host Tennessee State Saturday at O’Brien Field. Tennessee State is 4-0 overall.

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