OVC teams still in tight battle to be crowned champion

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Another week is in the books for the Ohio Valley Conference, but not much has changed. The teams that were winning before Saturday, continued to win, and the teams that were losing, continued to lose.

Eastern was able to slip by Tennessee Tech to keep its hopes of the OVC Championship much alive. The win came by way of strong performances by redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Kimble and redshirt senior running back Devin Church.

Kimble’s performance earned him OVC Co-Newcomer of the week. Kimble was 21-36 for 323 yards Saturday against Tennessee Tech. He also threw two touchdowns and helped erase a 17-3 deficit late in the second quarter.

Kimble started rough, throwing an interception in the end zone on the opening drive for the Panthers. He is also ranked 25th in the nation in touchdown passes with 11, even though he missed two weeks due to an injury.

Saturday was Kimble’s second 300+ yard passing game, and ironically have both been 323 yards. He threw for 323 yards in Eastern’s opener against Western. He also has at least two touchdown passes in each of the five games he’s played in.

A Look Around the OVC

 Jacksonville State vs. Austin Peay: JSU 34-AP 14

 The struggles continued for Austin Peay and that may have been expected from Jacksonville State, who handed the Governors their fifth straight loss in OVC play and sixth overall.

It was a battle of the OVC’s best team and the OVC’s worst team with the better team winning, but Austin Peay did some things well in the game. The Governors, to say the least, shut down quarterback Eli Jenkins and the Gamecocks’ passing attack.

Jenkins, who is known for his ability to run the ball leads the OVC in rushing yards…yes, as a quarterback he leads all running backs in rushing yards. Church is right behind him, technically with more yards, but Jenkins has played one less game and has just six yards less than Church.

He also has the second-most passing yards in the OVC, but Saturday could only put up 72 yards through the air.

Austin Peay also shut down Jacksonville State on third downs. The Gamecocks were 1-10 on third downs.

The Governors tied the game at 7, but that was all they could do, the next drive Jenkins ran for 56 yards and regained the lead 14-7.

This was the Governors 19th straight OVC win.

Tennessee-Martin vs. Murray State: UTM 38- MSU 31

Murray State was sent back into the loss column Saturday after suffering its second close loss to an OVC opponent. Murray State lost 17-16 to Southeast Missouri Sept. 24.

Tennessee-Martin has averaged the most points per game this season with 41 and was just a field goal short of matching that number. The Skyhawks needed the offense because their defense was not helping them out, besides an interception return.

Quarterback Troy Cook proved why he has the highest passing efficiency in the OVC as he threw for 317 yards, completing 21-38 passes. He also threw four touchdowns to four different receivers.

Murray State hung in there for much of the game and even took the lead with 10 minutes left, but Cook found Greg McKillon for a 75 yard touchdown pass to give Tennessee-Martin the lead on the ensuing drive. The Skyhawks converted on the two-point conversion and secured the win.

Tennessee State vs. Eastern Kentucky: TSU 35- EKU 28

 It was a game that Tennessee State seemed to have in the bag, leading 35-3 at halftime. But Eastern Kentucky fought back to cut it to a touchdown deficit, but that is all they could do.

Quarterback Ronald Butler had a pair of rushing touchdowns for Tennessee State, with two other players adding rushing touchdowns.

On the final drive of the game, Tennessee State’s linebacker Chris Collins intercepted the pass to preserve the win for the Tigers.

Southeast Missouri was on its bye week:

Eastern will be back in action this weekend for its Homecoming game against Murray State and will head to Jacksonville State the following weekend in a matchup that is shaping up to between the OVC’s top teams.

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