Conference notebook: Southeast Missouri stays hot in OVC play


Bryan Bund

Eastern linebacker Dytarious Johnson chases down Tennessee-Martin’s quarterback in a 24-21 win for the Panthers at O’Brien Field on Oct. 21. Johnson had his season high of 13 tackles in that game, he had 10 this previous weekend against Eastern Kentucky.

JJ Bullock, Sports Editor

For the first time in a long time, the seat of power of the Ohio Valley Conference may have finally shifted away from Jacksonville, Ala.

When Jacksonville State fell to Southeast Missouri in week eight by a score of 37-14, the Gamecocks were dealt a humbling blow that seismically shifted the OVC and ended Jacksonville State’s reign of dominance in the conference, which was tied to a 36-game winning streak.

In week nine, Southeast Missouri won again, this time stomping Tennessee-Martin 56-33, just one week after putting up 37 on the Gamecocks.

Southeast Missouri is now the winner of four straight games, its last loss coming in a 23-14 game in which the Redhawks were without star running back Marquis Terry. Terry has been the crucial piece to Southeast Missouri’s offense all season, so to judge the team on a game in which he did not play would be misguided.

Terry had 123 yards rushing with two touchdowns in the win over Tennessee-Martin on Saturday. He leads the conference with 910 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. The next closest back in production has been Austin Peay’s Kentel Williams who has 601 yards and six touchdowns.

Southeast Missouri quarterback Daniel Santacateria played well once again, his turn around this season has also been crucial to the Redhawks revival this season. Santacateria had 386 yards passing and three touchdowns against Tennessee-Martin. Of that, 286 yards were in completion to wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson, who also caught all three touchdowns from Santacaterina.

The win keeps Southeast Missouri in first place in the conference with a 6-2 (4-1) record. 

Jacksonville State recovered from its first conference loss since 2014 in only a fashion that Jacksonville State could, by slamming the upstart Murray State Racers 42-15 on the road. 

Murray State prior to this loss had been rising as a possible power player in the OVC, coming into the game with a 4-0 conference record, but the Gamecocks delivered them a harsh return to reality on Saturday. 

Jacksonville State outgained Murray State 577 yards to 260 in another impressive showing by the defense, which crumbled against Southeast Missouri. 

Quarterback Zion Cooper also had a redeeming game; he was 21-of-28 passing for 259 yards and three touchdowns. Against Southeast Missouri, Cooper had 323 yards passing, but threw three crucial interceptions in the loss. 

Wide receiver Josh Pearson grabbed three more touchdowns in the win for Jacksonville State, and Pearson now leads the FCS with 15 receiving touchdowns. His performance on Saturday propelled him out in front of Eastern’s Alexander Hollins who has 13.

Things just keep getting worse for Tennessee Tech as the Golden Eagles fell to 0-8 on the season after getting obliterated by Austin Peay 41-10. 

Tennessee Tech’s freshman quarterback Bailey Fisher struggled again, finishing the game just 9-of-24 passing with 97 yards. It has certainly been an up and down season for the freshman quarterback who was thrown into a starting role on a weak roster with a rebuilding program. 

Austin Peay quarterback Jermiah Oatsvall, on the other hand, had arguably his best game of the season; he threw for 279 yards and five touchdowns. Oatsvall leads the conference in passer efficiency. 

Eastern Kentucky delivered a crushing blow to Eastern with a 31-23 win on Saturday. That loss all but secures Eastern finishing at the bottom half of the conference this season. 

The coming weekend in the OVC is filled with four games that all should be fairly predictable. Southeast Missouri should beat Tennessee State, likewise for Jacksonville State over Tennessee-Martin. 

Tennessee Tech will put up little resistence against Murray State, and Eastern Kentucky should come away with a win against Austin Peay, but that game is closer to call than the others. 

JJ’s Power Rankings:

1.) Southeast Missouri- 6-2 (4-1)

2.) Jacksonville State- 6-2 (4-1)

3.) Murray State- 4-4 (4-1)

4.) Eastern Kentucky- 4-4 (3-2)

5.) Austin Peay- 4-4 (2-3)

6.) Tennessee State- 3-3 (2-2)

7.) Eastern- 2-7 (2-4)

8.) Tennessee-Martin- 1-7 (1-4)

9.) Tennessee Tech- 0-8 (0-5)

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