Football team still in good spot after Saturday’s loss

Maher Kawash, Football Reporter

There are not many times where someone can say a team is exactly where it wants to be following not only a loss, but a 16-point loss.

There are also not many times a team has to face an opponent that has 27 straight conference victories under its belt.

That brings in the Eastern football team.

In their homecoming game, the Panthers put No. 3 Jacksonville State on upset alert with an early multiple score lead before seeing that was gone in the second half behind the high-powered Gamecock offense.

But that is why there is not much for Eastern’s players or fans to hang their head about because when taking a look at how that overall game went, the Panthers seem to be in the right position at this point of the season.

At 5-3 overall and 4-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference, Eastern essentially controls its own destiny.

Following the loss, Eastern coach Kim Dameron even said that his team was in this same exact position two years ago, and ended the season by winning all of its games and making the playoffs.

Fast forward to the present to find Dameron and his Panthers indeed in that same position once again with a favorable chance of making the postseason.

Now regardless of the upcoming teams Eastern will face, there is some positives and negatives that can make or break this final stretch.

Sophomore running back Darshon McCullough’s versatility was shown in a 40-yard receiving touchdown followed by Isaiah Johnson’s ability to punch it into end zone later in the half.

Dameron has made a point all season long on how the run game is not just needed to win games but to control time of possession, and the Panthers showed that ability early on against Jacksonville State.

On the other hand, there are also the inconsistencies that have plagued this offense.

Eastern ranks second-to-last in scoring offense.

The Panthers rank in the same spot when it comes to total offensive yards, and that became clear against the Gamecocks when Eastern was stuffed in the second half.

While that happens its worthy to point out how Eastern’s defense has stepped up.

Jacksonville State’s offense has proven to be nearly impossible to defend as the quarterback always find success on the ground as well.

But for a good portion of that game Saturday afternoon, Eastern’s defense stood strong.

The Gamecocks were limited to just one score and a field goal in the first half, but in the second half they just became too much to handle for Eastern.

“Against a very good football team you can’t make the type of mistakes that we made, and some of them aren’t even obvious,” Dameron said.

Those little mistakes are ones that this team avoided in its last four wins which came in the final moments of the game.

But it becomes easier to make those mistakes or less avoidable against good teams such as Jacksonville State.

On top of all of that, it is clear that Eastern is a good enough team to compete for a playoff spot with wins in its final three games.

Maher Kawash can be reached at

581-2812 or [email protected]