Horne not worried about potential final game

Sean Hastings, Sports Editor

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The playoffs may not be in sight for the Eastern football team, but going out on a winning note in the final game of the season very much is.

When Eastern plays at Austin Peay Saturday, that will mark the end of the regular season for the Panthers and, for 21 seniors, the end of a college career.

Eastern has had its ups and downs all year, with the highs being sky high and the lows being ground low.

All six of Eastern’s wins this season have come by three points or less, establishing a whirlwind of emotion all season. Back-to-back losses in the OVC after winning four in a row sent the season on a downward spiral.

Playoffs or not, Saturday against Austin Peay is important.

“This game is the same as if we were 9-1 or 8-2,” said linebacker Nick Horne. “It’s the same thing. We just have to come in and win a football game and play our butts off.”

The Panthers are 6-4 overall and 5-2 in OVC play, and Austin Peay is 7-4 overall and 6-1 in OVC play.

“Seven and four sounds a lot better than 6-5,” Horne said. “It’s playoff talk, so anything can happen.”

Even though Horne is a senior and Saturday may mark the end of his senior season, that is the last thing on his mind.

“I’m not even thinking about me being a senior, my last football game here at Eastern,” he said. “I’m just going to come in and play my game like I always do. Come in the week and work hard. It’s just the same thing to me. Not looking to get too emotional. It’s football, it’s hard (to contain emotion), but I’m just looking to stay positive.”

The Panthers are coming off their BYE week and a 23-20 win over Eastern Kentucky at home on senior day.

Fittingly, the whirlwind of emotions capped off the senior day game. The Panthers had a great opening drive scoring on four plays, but were absent the rest of the game until the final 30 seconds.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Scotty Gilkey Jr. found junior receiver Alexander Hollins in the end zone on a game-tying Hail Mary pass with two seconds remaining.

Freshman kicker Matt Severino hit a 45-yard field goal in overtime to give Eastern its lead, and senior Bradley Dewberry intercepted a pass to seal the win for Eastern.

The Governors did a complete 180 this season compared to the last. They lost 27 straight games entering the 2017 season and pose a tough threat to Eastern.

But having its BYE week gave Eastern more time to prepare for Saturday’s game.

“I’ve taken time to work on things I need to work on,” Horne said. “I’m a football player at the end of the day, so I have things I need to work on and taking those few things and polishing them up, but other than that, coach just wants me to get healthy.”

Saturday’s kickoff is set for 4 p.m. in Clarksville.

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