Gilkey Jr., Panthers win in overtime

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Gilkey Jr., Panthers win in overtime

Scotty Gilkey Jr. tries to run past a Southeast Missouri defender Sept. 23 at O’Brien Field. Gilkey Jr. scored the game winning touchdown in double overtime Saturday at Tennessee State.

Scotty Gilkey Jr. tries to run past a Southeast Missouri defender Sept. 23 at O’Brien Field. Gilkey Jr. scored the game winning touchdown in double overtime Saturday at Tennessee State.

Bryan Bund

Scotty Gilkey Jr. tries to run past a Southeast Missouri defender Sept. 23 at O’Brien Field. Gilkey Jr. scored the game winning touchdown in double overtime Saturday at Tennessee State.

Bryan Bund

Bryan Bund

Scotty Gilkey Jr. tries to run past a Southeast Missouri defender Sept. 23 at O’Brien Field. Gilkey Jr. scored the game winning touchdown in double overtime Saturday at Tennessee State.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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It came down to the wire for the Eastern football team Saturday, but redshirt freshman Scotty Gilkey Jr. jumped the pile at the goal line to score the game-winning touchdown in double overtime for Eastern against Tennessee State.

The Panthers came away with a 19-16 win on the road to improve to 2-0 in conference.

Mistakes is what almost cost Eastern the game and ultimately did cost Tennessee State the game. On 4th down-and-2, Eastern ran a trick play involving a direct snap to sophomore running back Darshon McCullough, with Gilkey Jr. going out for a pass, and a pitch to redshirt junior receiver Aaron Gooch.

It was a broken play after a dropped snap by McCullough, but he got the ball to Gooch who threw it to the end zone to Gilkey Jr., who was interfered with, giving Eastern a first down at the 1-yard line.

Three plays later, Gilkey Jr. jumped the pile at the line and crossed the goal line for the score.

Nearing overtime, both teams were making costly mistakes that set up the other to get a late-game win, but neither was able to take full advantage.

It all started when senior punter Cody Edwards’ punt was muffed by Tennessee State return man Patrick Smith and recovered by sophomore Antonio Crosby at Tennessee State’s 33-yard line with 2:12 left in the game.

On Eastern’s ensuing drive, junior Isaiah Johnson committed a false start penalty that backed the Panthers out of an already tight field goal range for its two kickers. Eastern tried for it on fourth down and failed.

Eastern had the ball back and got one more chance after the Panthers forced a late fumble on Tennessee State quarterback Michael Hughes with 16 seconds left in the game.

Coach Kim Dameron did not want a field goal attempt before overtime to get blocked and get run back for a touchdown and win the game, which played into his decision to not kick the field goal, he said.

In overtime, Dameron was faced with one of the toughest decisions he had to make in the game. Kick the long 42-yard field goal, or try to go for it on fourth down.

Clark made a 51-yard field goal to tie the game at 10 in regulation at 3:18, so Tennessee State was well within range to win with a field goal if Eastern did not score

He called on freshman Matt Severino to send it through the uprights in overtime after passing on him at the end of regulation, opting for a “Hail Mary” pass to the end zone, which fell incomplete.

Severino connected on the field goal to give Eastern a 13-10 lead. Tennessee State’s kicker Lane Clark made a field goal on its drive to tie it at 13.

“I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what we were going to do,” Dameron said. “I almost went for it because I didn’t think (Severino or Nick Wilson) could kick it that far. But at the end of the day, I had to give him a chance. We ran him out there, gave him a chance and he came through.”

After the first overtime, the teams switch ends of the field and Tennessee State gets the ball first at Eastern’s 25-yard line. Eastern’s defense stepped up and held the Tigers to another field goal making the score 16-13 Tennessee State, giving the Panthers a chance to score a touchdown and win.

“These kids found a way to win,” Dameron said. “It seemed like we were trying to almost give it away at some point, but they didn’t get down.”

Eastern’s defense continued to stand strong, but the offense needs to improve and execute better, Dameron said.

Sean Hastings can be reached at

581-2812 or smh[email protected]