Illinois State beats Eastern football team 44-13

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Illinois State beats Eastern football team 44-13

Scotty Gilkey Jr. rushes in his 3-yard touchdown run in the Panthers’ 44-13 loss to Illinois State Saturday at O’Brien Field. The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-2 on the season.

Scotty Gilkey Jr. rushes in his 3-yard touchdown run in the Panthers’ 44-13 loss to Illinois State Saturday at O’Brien Field. The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-2 on the season.

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Scotty Gilkey Jr. rushes in his 3-yard touchdown run in the Panthers’ 44-13 loss to Illinois State Saturday at O’Brien Field. The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-2 on the season.

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Bryan Bund | The Daily Eastern News

Scotty Gilkey Jr. rushes in his 3-yard touchdown run in the Panthers’ 44-13 loss to Illinois State Saturday at O’Brien Field. The loss dropped the Panthers to 1-2 on the season.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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Coach Kim Dameron said Saturday’s loss to Illinois State was as bad of an offensive performance he has been associated with in his 30 years of coaching college football.

Illinois State took full control of the Panthers’ home opener winning 44-13. And for the third week in a row, Eastern’s offense struggled.

Last week at Northern, the Panthers failed to have more than 200 yards of total offense and Saturday against Illinois State was much of the same.

Eastern’s offense had 117 total yards and Illinois State had 451 yards offensively.

“Something’s got to change,” Dameron said. “For us to go forward and get better next week, it’s obvious that what we’re doing ain’t working. If we have to make changes, I don’t know. We’re going to talk about it.”

The Panthers tried making changes this week in personnel, by starting their younger linemen hoping that they would be more physical, Dameron said. Eastern also put redshirt freshman quarterback Scotty Gilkey Jr. in and gave him playing time.

Eastern scored on touchdown offensively when Gilkey Jr. rushed in a 3-yard score. The other touchdown came off a blocked punt. Redshirt freshman Julien Hess blocked the punt and redshirt senior Mack Weaver scooped it and scored the touchdown.

It was a day of struggles top to bottom for the Panthers and it drops them to 1-2.

“Totally frustrating day,” Dameron said. “The only thing we did worth a darn was third down defense. We held them to 3-of-16 on third down, but of course they held us to 2-of-14 so still didn’t beat them in that category.”

The Redbirds had a 27-6 lead at the end of the first half and kept the Panthers to 14 yards, which also included -22 rushing yards.

After three weeks of hardly any growth on the offensive side ball, it has Dameron wondering what is going on.

“After three weeks of watching our offense, I’m at a loss,” he said.

Redshirt senior quarterback Mitch Kimble and Gilkey Jr. combined for 13-23 passing and Gilkey Jr. threw one interception. Kimble was sacked six times throughout the game.

Dameron said that both quarterbacks are going to play moving forward. He said whichever one is healthy is going to play.

Kimble was pressured constantly throughout the game and when he did have time to throw he connected for two big plays, but were called back because of penalties.

“I was afraid we were going to get both of them killed to be honest,” Dameron said. “Every time Mitch dropped back, he got smashed it seemed like.”

Eastern was in need to find a way to run the ball, Dameron said. The Panthers finished the game with 14 rushing yards and having Gilkey Jr. in the game gave the Panthers a chance to utilize it.

“If it takes running 6 foot 4, 230 then let’s do that,” Dameron said. “We’ve had some success against both defenses putting drives together with him in the game from the quarterback position.”

The Panthers start Ohio Valley Conference play next week with a home game against Southeast Missouri.

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