Eastern with OVC road test Saturday


Bryan Bund

Redshirt freshman quarterback Scotty Gilkey Jr. celebrates a rushing touchdown with James Sheehan and Aaron Callaway in the Panthers’ 19-16 win over Southeast Missouri Saturday at O’Brien Field. Eastern is on the road this weekend to take on 0-1 Tennessee State.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

Coach Kim Dameron gave his team the music back at practice this week— at least he tried to, because the O’Brien Field speakers were not working.

For the first time in two weeks, the Eastern football team played a sound game and picked up an Ohio Valley Conference win against Southeast Missouri last week at home.

Now, the Panthers are going to be tested on the road against Tennessee State Saturday. The Tigers lost their opener 31-16 to Tennessee-Martin.

Eastern’s win was a positive way to start OVC play, but the Panthers had a hard week of practice and even though Dameron brought the music back after the win, it is off their mind now.

“We’re happy that we won, but our sights are on TSU,” Dameron said. “We know that we have to put the work in to make sure that we’re supposed to down (in Nashville).”

Redshirt freshman Scotty Gilkey Jr. is the team’s quarterback again this week after making his first career start last week.

Gilkey Jr. connected with junior Alexander Hollins for two touchdowns last week and Hollins said he is comfortable with Gilkey Jr. as quarterback.

“We’re feeling great with Scotty,” Hollins said. “We get chemistry with all our quarterbacks, whether it’s Mitch (Kimble), Scotty, or Bud (Martin). We’re going to get chemistry with all of them and whoever goes in we’re going to be pretty good with any quarterback.”

Hollins is the Panthers’ leading receiver with 19 receptions and 229 yards. His two touchdowns last week were his first two of the season.

He said that Tennessee State likes to press, something that Southeast Missouri did not do and that when the Tigers do that, the receivers have to win the one-on-one battles.

Eastern has tried to make things easier on Gilkey Jr., making the calls from up in the booth rather than on the field.

Gilkey Jr. is the second-leading rusher for the Panthers just behind junior running back Isaiah Johnson.

He is in the midst of improving his pass game, but Dameron said it is going to come down to what looks they get in the game for what they will call for Gilkey Jr.

“(We’ll call) what he plays he likes, the plays he’s comfortable with,” Dameron said. “Those are things we want to do with him. The same way we do it with Mitch. It’s just a different guy.”

Although the Tigers gave up 31 points last week to the Skyhawks, 24 of those points came in one half, but defense has been their strong suit in Dameron’s four years at Eastern, he said.

“That’s one thing you know about a TSU team, they’re going to play great defense,” Dameron said. “They’re going to be athletic, they’re going to be well coached and they’re going to play their hind end off.”

Tennessee State’s quarterback Treon Harris was hurt last week, but is expected to play for the Tigers on Saturday.

Michael Hughes is the backup for Tennessee State and Dameron said the Panthers are preparing to defend against the Tigers’ offense and will figure out which quarterback they are going after when the game starts.

Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Nissan Stadium in Nashville.

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