Eastern football team falls to Jacksonville State for 1st OVC loss


Bryan Bund

Senior Nick Horne runs onto the field for the Panthers’ game with Jacksonville State. Eastern lost 30-14 on its Homecoming game.

Sean Hastings , Sports Editor

Following a downfall of a second half, the Eastern football team lost its first OVC game to Jacksonville State 30-14  Saturday at O’Brien Field.

It was simple. Eastern played well in the first half and Jacksonville State played well enough to hang around at half time and push ahead throughout the second half to lead to the win.

The Panthers had 83 total yards in the second.

“We shot ourselves in the foot too much in the second half to be able to compete with a football team of (Jacksonville State’s) caliber,” coach Kim Dameron said. “Plus we never really got the big explosive play.”

The Panthers had the Gamecocks right where they wanted them, holding a 14-9 lead going into the half. That was the first time the Gamecocks had trailed at half to an Ohio Valley Conference team since 2013.

The last team to do it: Eastern. And Eastern ended up winning that game, but since then Jacksonville State went on to win 27-straight OVC games— 28 now after the win Saturday.

In the first half, Eastern was nearly unstoppable. The offense was moving the ball well and the defense was shutting down one of the top offenses in the OVC.

Redshirt junior quarterback Bud Martin made his second career start and 10 minutes into the game he connected with sophomore running back Darshon McCullough for a 40-yard touchdown.

One thing Martin did well in the first half was stay calm in the pocket and wait for the play to develop and find the open receiver.

This one was a short 10-yard pass after the Jacksonville State defense rushed in and left McCullough the running back open in the middle of the field and he took it 30 yard to the end zone.

The whole drive stemmed from Tray Mitchell’s forced fumble on defense that was recovered by Nick Horne at Eastern’s own 23-yard line.

Jacksonville State answered early in the second quarter with a touchdown. It was a 5-yard run from Tramel Terry at the 13:24 mark. The Gamecocks went for the two-point conversion and did not convert.

Eastern led 7-6.

Isaiah Johnson helped the Panthers extend their lead to 14-6 with a 2-yard touchdown run at the 7:05 mark in the second quarter..

Jacksonville State’s kicker Cade Stinnett’s try at a 49-yard field goal try hit the left upright and bounce out, keeping Eastern’s lead at 14-6. He later hit a 50-yard field goal off the right upright, this time it bounced in and cut the lead to 14-9 at the half.

Everything fell apart for Eastern in the second half and the Gamecocks started playing like the team that had won 27 games in a row in conference.

Martin threw an interception in the first two minutes of the third quarter and it led to Jacksonville State scoring its go-ahead touchdown to make it 16-14.

Jacksonville State quarterback Bryant Horne hit Krenwick Sanders with a 34-yard pass for the go-ahead score. Nine minutes later he found him again on a 5-yard touchdown pass to the back of the end zone to make it a two-score game.

Jacksonville State added one more touchdown on a 20-yard run by De’Marcus Flowers with 1:16 left in the game to make it 30-14.

Going into the game, coach Kim Dameron wanted the Panthers to be able to run the ball, but knew a 300-yard performance like last week would not happen again, but did not think it would only result in 28 yards, he said.

“I expected us to be able to run the ball a little bit,” he said. “We had chances, it’s just that we couldn’t pop things.”

Jacksonville State moved to 4-0 in conference and in sole possession of first place in the OVC. Eastern drops to 4-1 in OVC games and is second in the OVC.

Sean Hastings can be reached at

581-2812 or [email protected]