Football team to tackle Tennessee State Saturday

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Redshirt senior Devin Church stiff-arms a SEMO defender in the first half of Saturday’s 21-14 loss. Church rushed for 86-yards on 15 carries to lead all rushers.

Justin Brown
Redshirt senior Devin Church stiff-arms a SEMO defender in the first half of Saturday’s 21-14 loss. Church rushed for 86-yards on 15 carries to lead all rushers.

Last week, Tennessee State’s kicker Lane Clark was good from 54 and 57 yards to add to his 10 points to lead the Tigers to a 34-30 win over Tennessee-Martin.

When a kicker can hit from that far, and an offense can also put the ball in the end zone often, defense is going to be even more key for the Panthers, redshirt senior defensive lineman Jarvis Williams said.

He said it is going to be important when the coaches call blitzes, stunts or pass rushes that the Eastern defensive line is able to get in the backfield and make a play and put pressure on the quarterback.

Tennessee State’s kicker can hit a longer field goal than most college kickers would attempt, but the Panthers have that schemed up too.

“We’re going to rush the middle, get in his face and shake him up a little bit,” Williams said. “Maybe call a timeout, ice the kicker, we’re going to scheme it up the way were supposed to, and we’re going to be fired up. A 57-yard kicker can be the difference in winning or losing a game.”

Coach Kim Dameron said since Tennessee State only needs to get 10 yards past the 50-yard line to give its kicker a shot, Eastern will have to be more aggressive on defense.

“I would love for someone to not cross the 50, that would be great,” Dameron said. “It changes how aggressive you need to be at certain times and down and distances once they are starting to get into field goal range and his range is greater than most the kickers that we play against. It probably adds about 10 yards to our game plan as far as the fringe area and the red zone.”

As far as the Eastern offense goes, it will have its starting quarterback back to help get back on track after suffering a loss last week at Southeast Missouri State.

Redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Kimble was sidelined the past two weeks with an injury he suffered at the end of the game against Illinois State three weeks ago.

“I’m looking forward to having Mitch back, and hopefully he’ll play well,” Dameron said.

In three starts this year, Kimble is 47-82 with seven touchdown passes for 581 yards.

Redshirt junior Austin Green replaced Kimble in the games he was out, and Dameron liked what he saw from him.

He said last week’s loss is not just on having to use Green, their backup quarterback, but the whole offense needed to function better.

Tennessee State comes in with a perfect 4-0 record and 1-0 record in the Ohio Valley Conference.

The biggest issue for the Panthers to fix this week is their execution on both sides of the ball.

Kick off is set for 6 p.m. Saturday.

Hall of Fame game

Saturday is the Hall of Fame game at Eastern and five former Panthers will be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

The list includes Jeff Christensen (football), Brett Nommensen (baseball), Sandyn Short Connolly (softball), Gabe Spezia (track) and Dr. Gail Richard (administrator).

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