Panthers’ run game knocks off Tennessee State

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Redshirt junior running back Korliss Marshall is run out of bounds by a Tennessee State opponent during the Panthers' 35-34 win Saturday at O'Brien Field. Marshall rushed for 66 yards and had 1 receiving touchdown.

Bryan Bund
Redshirt junior running back Korliss Marshall is run out of bounds by a Tennessee State opponent during the Panthers’ 35-34 win Saturday at O’Brien Field. Marshall rushed for 66 yards and had 1 receiving touchdown.


It did not take long for redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Kimble to get back into his usual form after sitting out the last two games because of an injury.

Following a 66-yard kick return from redshirt junior Korliss Marshall to open the game, the Panthers ran three plays before Kimble ran it 9 yards into the end zone. Eastern’s drive began at the Tennessee State 10-yard line.

Kimble took the snap, faked the handoff to redshirt senior Devin Church and maneuvered his way into the end zone, having to beat just one defender as the fake handoff drew Tennessee State to Church.

And having Kimble back not only brings his arm back into the equation, but Kimble has been able to get the job done using his legs.

His touchdown Saturday night was his second rushing touchdown of the year in four games. He has 117 rushing yards.

Church was happy to have Eastern’s starting quarterback back on the field.

“We got Mitch back; I definitely think that helped us out a lot,” Church said. “Mitch almost gives you a dual threat because he can run the ball and he can pass the ball. And we just played a good game.”

Church and Marshall also added to the Panther running that game that has seemed to find a life in the last few weeks.

Eastern rushed for 221 yards, and Tennessee State only ran for 76.

“For us to rush for 221 yards, that’s what we need to be doing,” Dameron said. “Especially against a good defense like that. They made some plays.”

Eastern came out hot to start the game, with the first score coming just 1:30 into the game and a second score five minutes later. But Eastern slowed down a little bit, and Tennessee State started to inch its way back into the game.

Senior linebacker Seth McDonald said the Panthers kind of lost composure after having such a fast start and need to make sure they cut down on opposing offenses making big plays to get them back in games.

And a fast start like that, Coach Kim Dameron knew that it would keep going that way.

Part of the reason Tennessee State was able to get back into the game was because of wide receivers Patrick Smith and Steven Newbold.

Smith and Newbold each had one touchdown, and Smith had 160 yards receiving. Coach Dameron has high praise for the Tiger receivers.

“There might not be a better receiver in the country than Patrick Smith,” Dameron said. “The guy makes plays. And Newbold isn’t far behind him.”

Eastern had to deal with injuries on defense on the outside and had to use two redshirt freshmen and a senior to try and stop the duo, but Dameron was proud of the way they competed.

One of the bigger stories coming into the game was Tennessee State’s kicker Lane Clark. Clark has a stronger leg than most college kickers in the country, and it showed Saturday.

Clark was good from 57 yards, but that one was waved off because Eastern was offside before the ball was snapped, and then on the do-over, Clark drilled the 52-yard field goal.

But when it came down to the wire, what seemed like an easy field goal for the kicker with three minutes left from 46 yards, Clark was not clutch.

Clark shanked the kick and it was a low line drive that came up well short of the uprights. The kick would have given Tennessee State a 37-35 lead.

Eastern got the ball back and ran the clock down to 40 seconds. This meant Tennessee State would get a few shots to move down the field. And if they got it past the 50, Clark would get a shot at redemption.

But redshirt junior punter Cody Edwards pinned the Tigers at their own 4-yard line and the ground was too much to cover for Tennessee State, and Eastern escaped with the win.

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