Eastern falls to 1-1, SEMO leads OVC at 2-0


Justin Brown

Quarterback Austin Green scrambles with the ball Saturday at Houck Stadium in a 21-14 loss to SEMO. Green carried the ball seven times for 18 yards and passed for 188 yards completing 19-of-33 attempts.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

When a team in the Ohio Valley Conference only plays eight games, one loss can make it hard for a team to comeback and win the OVC title. At least that was the case last year.

In 2015, the OVC title came down to Eastern and Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks came into O’Brien Field and beat the Panthers, ultimately decided Jacksonville State the OVC winner.

That was Eastern’s only conference loss of the season and it had them come up short of the OVC title. Now here in 2016, Eastern already has one loss and it didn’t even come against Jacksonville State, the favorite to win the OVC.

But what has worked for the Panthers in their wins this season is the depth and reliability at all positions. Redshirt junior quarterback Austin Green handled the offense well as the team’s starter in the last two games replacing the injured redshirt junior Mitch Kimble.

There is no word yet on who will be the starting quarterback for Eastern this coming Saturday.

Eastern has also been able to keep their running backs fresh, rotating in two, sometimes three players.

It came Saturday against Southeast Missouri, a game where the Panthers just did not seem on their game and are now 1-1 in OVC play.

The Redhawks’ hot start has them atop the conference with a 2-0 record following a late win against Murray State and their win over the Panthers.

All nine teams except for Jacksonville State have begun conference play. Tennessee State and SEMO are both undefeated to start. Tennessee State is 1-0 after their first week of OVC play.

Jacksonville State will host Tennessee Tech Saturday to open OVC play. Tennessee Tech is 2-1 after wins against Austin Peay and Eastern Kentucky. Tennessee-Martin earned its only win in OVC play on Sept. 17 against Tennessee Tech.

As far as Eastern goes, and getting a conference title, winning out and having Jacksonville State suffer a loss can make things better.

Austin Peay has not had a good start to the year, the Governors are 0-3 in OVC play and 0-4 overall. Eastern had a 56-35 blowout win against them, but the Governors never went away and almost tied the game.

While the Governors almost knocked off the Panthers, their three other games have not looked so good. Austin Peay has given up 199 points and only have scored 76.

Tennessee State’s first OVC win came over Tennessee-Martin and now have 4-0 overall record. The Tigers escaped Saturday’s win in the last 10 seconds, a game they trailed 30-27 with nine seconds left

Quarterback Ronald Butler found Patrick Smith in the end zone for the game winning score. The Tigers will go on the road to play Eastern Saturday.

It’s still early in the season with most teams having 6-7 OVC games left, but having one loss can put a team in the hole and that proved to be true. Jacksonville State went undefeated and won the title.

All but three teams, including Jacksonville State who does not have an OVC game under its belt, have a loss. SEMO will head to Eastern Kentucky next week to take on the Colonels and Eastern welcomes in Tennessee State.

Eastern Kentucky will be looking for it’s first win after suffering a loss in its first OVC game.


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