Blocked field goal gives Panthers win


Sean Hastings

Junior Alexander Hollins takes an end-around from Scotty Gilkey Jr. in the Panthers’ 24-23 win over Tennessee Tech Oct. 7 at O’Brien Field.

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

For the fourth-straight week, the Eastern football team’s win came down to the final play. This time it was sophomore defensive lineman Terrell Greer’s blocked field goal in double overtime that did it.

Eastern beat Murray State 27-24 on the road.

Both team’s kickers were tested with game-tying field goals in the overtime periods, but Eastern’s Matt Severino was the only one to come through.

Gabriel Vincente opened the overtime period with a 36-yard field goal that was answered by Severino. And in the second overtime period, it was Vincente who was tested and his 38-yard try was blocked at the line.
That was Eastern’s fourth blocked kick of the season and it put the Panthers in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference at 4-0.

Coach Kim Dameron said they might have to rely heavily on running backs Darshon McCullough and Isaiah Johnson to make things easier on redshirt junior quarterback Bud Martin running the offense.

Eastern did just that.

The Panthers rushed for 351 yards, with 236 of those coming from Isaiah Johnson. Johnson scored one touchdown six minutes into the second half to give Eastern a 21-7 lead. McCullough rushed for 98 yards.

Dameron always wants to be able to get the run game going and in back-to-back weeks, Eastern’s running backs have been following through.

Martin and junior Alexander Hollins connected on a touchdown pass 12 seconds before the first half ended to give Eastern a 14-7 lead. Martin has four touchdown passes in two games and all four have gone to Hollins.

Eastern kept its two-touchdown lead through the third quarter. The Racers had a chance to cut the lead late in the third quarter after forcing redshirt sophomore Robert Columbus to fumble.

Instead of taking advantage of the blunder in Eastern’s own territory, Murray State fumbled it right back to the Panthers four plays later.

With 1:34 left in the fourth quarter, Severino missed a 22-yard field goal and the Racers got the ball to the Panthers’ 45-yard line after a 35-yard pass connection from quarterback Shuler Bentley to Jordan Gandy.

The Racers had to punt.

It seemed as if the Panthers were going to get out of Murray State with a non-last play, down to the wire win, but back-to-back scores for Murray State at the 9:51 and 4:06 marks made this game a nail biter as well.

In a big effort to try and get into field goal range, Bentley heaved a pass down the field, but it was intercepted by redshirt sophomore Cornelius Page with 31 seconds left in the game.

Eastern and Jacksonville State are the only two teams left in the OVC that are undefeated. The Gamecocks have played one-less game than the Panthers and are 3-0.

Eastern is 5-2 overall and 4-0 in conference. The Panthers keep finding ways to win and are setting themselves up to contend with Jacksonville State for the OVC title.

Jacksonville State won the last three conference championships.

The two teams meet next week at Eastern in what will be Eastern’s toughest OVC test yet.

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