Gamecocks win again, Skyhawks stun Austin Peay


Bryan Bund

Eastern safety Raymond Crittenden (4) and cornerback Mark Williams (21) combine to make a tackle on an Indiana State ball carrier in a 55-41 loss in week three at O’Brien Field. The Eastern defense is ranked second-to-last in the OVC, ahead of just Tennessee Tech.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

And then there were two. With the Eastern football team’s 41-40 loss to Tennessee State on Saturday and Tennessee Tech’s 48-20 loss to Jacksonville State, Eastern and Tennessee Tech remain the only two winless teams in the OVC.

Jacksonville State knocked around Tennessee Tech in just about every way possible, putting up 544 yards on offense, the exact same total Eastern surrendered to Tennessee State, and dropped 17-points in the fourth quarter to really bury the Golden Eagles.

Josh Pearson grabbed five passes for 120 yards and two touchdowns for the Gamecocks in the win, playing the key factor in keeping Tennessee Tech winless. Pearson now has five touchdowns this season, two behind conference leader Alexander Hollins from Eastern.

Pearson’s big game earned him the OVC Offensive Player of the Week award.

Tennessee Tech’s defense is now giving up a conference-worst 51 points per game this season, worse than only Eastern who is surrendering 49.8 points per game, and the Golden Eagles have also given up a league-worst 2,172 yards. Once again, that total is worse than only Eastern, which has given up 2,096 yards.

Tennesse-Martin delivered the first real shocking game of the season in the first week on conference play, toppling Austin Peay 37-7 at home.

Austin Peay took a 7-6 lead into halftime with them, but everything changed after the opening kick of the third quarter was returned by the Skyhawks’ Peyton Logan for a 75-yard touchdown. From that moment, the game belonged to Tennessee-Martin.

Skyhawks’ quarterback Dresser Winn completed 21 of 28 pass attempts for 199 yards and one touchdown, but his trouble with interceptions this season persisted as he tossed two of them against Austin Peay. Winn has a conference-high six interceptions this season, he does however lead the OVC in yards and touchdown passes.

Austin Peay quarterback JaVaughn Craig struggled all game, completing just 5 of 18 pass attempts for 83 yards and one interception.

Much of Craig’s struggles can be attributed to Tennessee-Martin linebacker Garret Wall, who put up 13 tackles and half a sack and hurried Craig once, as he forced one fumble, earning Defensive Player of the Week honors for the conference.

The loss is a big blow to Austin Peay on the national scene as they have now fallen out of the top 25. They came into the game ranked 23rd in the FCS poll, leaving Jacksonville State (ranked 8th) as the only OVC team to appear in the poll.

Eastern Kentucky’s defense should be feeling a sense of pride this week after it led its team to a 23-14 home win over Southeast Missouri. Eastern Kentucky’s defense held Redhawks’ running back Marquis Terry to just 58-yards rushing on 12 carries for no touchdowns on Saturday. This comes after a week when Terry, who leads the nation with 232 all-purpose yards per game, ran for a conference record 311 yards against Southern Illinois.

The Eastern Kentucky defense not only held Terry in check for the entire game, but also intercepted Southeast Missouri quarterback Daniel Santercanteria four times in the game.

It is tough to imagine that the Eastern Kentucky coaching staff could ask for a much better defensive performance against a very good Redhawks’ offense.

Austin Peay has a chance to potentially work itself back into the national top 25 and play spoiler to Jacksonville State, who have won 33 straight conference games, when the two teams meet this Saturday on Jacksonville State’s home turf.

Tennessee-Martin should move to 2-0 in the OVC this week, as they play a struggling Murray State team, but the game is at home for the Racers and if last week’s OVC results tell us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.

Tennessee State will clash with the SEC’s Vanderbilt. OVC teams have not fared well against the SEC this season, holding an 0-3 record.

Eastern and Tennesse Tech will be playing for the rights to not be called the conference’s worst team when the two teams meet in Cookeville, Tenn this Saturday.

JJ’s conference power rankings:

Jacksonville State (2-1, 1-0 OVC)

Eastern Kentucky (2-2, 1-0 OVC)

Tennessee- Martin (1-3, 1-0 OVC)

Austin Peay (2-2, 0-1 OVC)

Southeast Missouri (2-2, 0-1 OVC)

Tennessee State (2-0, 1-0 OVC)

Murray State (0-3, 0-0 OVC)

Eastern (0-4, 0-1 OVC)

Tennessee Tech (0-4, 0-1 OVC)

JJ Bullock can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].