Football players earn OVC honors


Bryan Bund

Senior linebacker Nick Horne comes in for a tackle against Southeast Missouri Sept. 23 at O’Brien Field. Horne was named Defensive Player of the Week in the Ohio Valley Conference for his performance against Tennessee State Saturday.

Maher Kawash, Football Reporter

After a double-overtime victory pushed the Eastern football team to 2-0, its leaders on both sides of the ball have earned some special honors.

The Ohio Valley Conference has named redshirt freshman Scotty Gilkey Jr. the offensive player and newcomer of the week.

Gilkey Jr. had a gritty performance that played a pivotal role in the Panthers’ 19-16 win over 24th ranked Tennessee State Saturday.

The redshirt freshman quarterback did most of his damage on the ground despite 11 passes for 46 yards through the air.

“Playing quarterback has to be a way of life if you are going to be successful at it,” Gilkey Jr. said.

Gilkey Jr. racked up 146 yards and two touchdowns through his 25 carries in the run game for Eastern.

“I think it’s more about what we did than what they did,” Gilkey Jr. said. “When our offensive line dominates we can play with anybody.”

He is also just the third quarterback in Eastern history to rush for more than 100 yards in a game.

But the honor does not change much of his mindset.

Gilkey Jr. said he was far from perfect against Tennessee State and he has to do a better job running and throwing the football.

Since Gilkey Jr. became the starting quarterback against Southeast Missouri last week, the Panthers have strung off two straight conference wins.

He started the season behind redshirt senior quarterback Mitch Kimble on the depth chart, but offensive struggles and a shoulder injury to Kimble have handed Gilkey Jr. the keys to the offense.

“You just have to compete every day in everything that you do,” Gilkey Jr. said. “It’s just all about making the right decision whether its running or throwing.”

His energy when leading the offense and electrifying footwork on the ground has brought some life to a Panther team that struggled mightily in its opening weeks of the season.

He is also just the third Eastern freshman quarterback to ever win his first collegiate start.

While Gilkey Jr.’s performance has led Eastern offensively, senior Nick Horne has led them defensively as his 12 tackles against Tennessee State also earned him some honors.

Horne was named the OVC Defensive Player of the Week, and his ability to force a fumble led to a touchdown on the following possession for Eastern Saturday.

It did not end there for Horne’s game-changing performance as the veteran linebacker intercepted a pass at the 25-yard line with six seconds left before halftime.

With both sides of the ball beginning to mesh for Eastern, the team now turns focus to another important conference matchup.

The Panthers host Tennessee Tech Saturday night at O’Brien Field.

Maher Kawash can be reached at 

581-282 or [email protected]