Panthers hosting Murray State Saturday


Justin Brown

Redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Kimble fires a pass during the Panthers' 24-21 win Saturday, Sept. 17, at Hancock Stadium.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

It may be Homecoming weekend at Eastern, and while the Panthers will enjoy the added excitement around the game, for redshirt junior quarterback Mitch Kimble and the rest of the Panthers, it needs to be business as usual.

Eastern is riding a two-game win streak in Ohio Valley Conference play following wins over Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech.

Tennessee State was a game where Eastern started hot and cooled off, and Tennessee Tech was a game where Eastern started really cold and heated up late in the game.

With a struggling Murray State coming in, Eastern needs to win and win decisively.

The two wins have come by the big play by Kimble who returned against Tennessee State off an injury.

In his first game back, Kimble threw for 180 yards, including two touchdowns, and a rushing touchdown.

Against Tennessee Tech, Kimble threw for 323 yards and threw two touchdowns.

“I felt pretty good, but I started off a little bit slow (against Tennessee Tech),” Kimble said. “I think we all started off slow, but I think toward the end we made plays when it mattered. Our focus for this week is coming out fast and putting points on the board early.”

Also for Eastern, this will be its first day game in three weeks.

The Panthers have played three-straight 6 p.m. start games.

When Eastern plays at night, the Panthers have to wait around all day for the game to start. With a day game, they get up and go.

And Kimble will prefer a day game over a night game.

“Playing in the evening is a long day, just sitting around not really doing anything so I’m excited to be back playing in the afternoon,” Kimble said.

Whether it is Homecoming, a day game or any other outside factor, the only thing that matters to the Panthers is themselves and how they play the game.

Coach Kim Dameron has also let his team know about the importance of coming out strong and not looking past the 1-5 Racers.

“We’ve talked about that this week, actually,” he said. “We’ve talked about the fact that we do need to start fast, so hopefully we’ll be able to do that.”

While the Panthers may be 3-1 in OVC play, each week has been a battle Dameron said.

Eastern had a one-point win against Tennessee State, a comeback-win against Tennessee Tech, a loss to Southeast Missouri and a three-touchdown win against Austin Peay, which the Governors made closer than it should have been.

“Murray State is a very explosive team, and they’re getting better on defense,” he said. “They’ve always been explosive on offense.”

Last year’s game came down to the fourth quarter, so there is nothing “easy” about Murray State.

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