Defense faces tough task at home against UT-Martin

Maher Kawash, Football Reporter


With as many wins as losses in conference play this season, the Eastern football team is in a situation it did not expect to be in less than a month ago.

Regardless of any upset losses the Panthers have suffered, there is still a task at hand to win the final two games of the season.

First up in that quest for a chance at the postseason is a second place Tennessee-Martin squad which comes in at 4-1 against Ohio Valley Conference opponents.

That 4-1 record stands out and is evidently good enough to top Eastern in the conference standings, but overall the two teams are matched at 5-4 this season.

But that could have an asterisk next to it as three of the Skyhawks’ four losses have come against FBS opponents.

With that being said, that should be the least of the Panthers’ worries as they really do still have a chance to crack the postseason as they currently rank 24th in the FCS rankings.

All that’s left to do is back that ranking and run the table for the final two games of the season.

That may be easier said than done, however.

If Eastern is going to top UT-Martin it is going to have to come down to the defenses ability to lock down the top ranked offense in the OVC.

The Skyhawks average about 36 points per game to lead the conference, but it does not get easier on the other side of the ball.

UT-Martin also ranks third in the OVC in scoring defense as the team has allowed about 25 points per game.

That does not offer the easiest task for Eastern, but no one said it would be a cakewalk to the postseason, and Eastern coach Kim Dameron has mentioned all season long that every conference game is a tough one.

Well, Dameron’s third ranked offense and sixth ranked defense will be much needed to overcome that task.

The key for Eastern will also be to get the run game going early and often.

UT-Martin ranks second in stopping the run among conference opponents, and senior Devin Church and Co. have to find a way to get passed that.

The Panthers have fared well in most games this season, and have lost just two games by 17 or more points.

Those two losses have also come to two top ranked teams in the nation in Jacksonville State and Western Illinois.

Regardless of any past wins or losses, all that matters are the final two games of the regular season.

If Eastern can get back to its success that was seen earlier in the season, then they may just crack the top 24 and earn a berth in the playoffs.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]