Panthers to host 1st-place Redhawks

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Panthers to host 1st-place Redhawks

Eastern head coach Adam Cushing talks with the line judge during an official review in the Panthers’ game against Tennessee Tech Sept. 28. Eastern lost the game 40-29.

Eastern head coach Adam Cushing talks with the line judge during an official review in the Panthers’ game against Tennessee Tech Sept. 28. Eastern lost the game 40-29.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern head coach Adam Cushing talks with the line judge during an official review in the Panthers’ game against Tennessee Tech Sept. 28. Eastern lost the game 40-29.

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern head coach Adam Cushing talks with the line judge during an official review in the Panthers’ game against Tennessee Tech Sept. 28. Eastern lost the game 40-29.

JJ Bullock, Editor-In-Chief

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For the first time this season the Eastern football team (1-9, 1-5) will be going into a game coming off of a win.

Eastern got its first win last week against Tennessee State in a 49-38 offensive shootout between the conference’s two last place teams.

This week the Panthers will find themselves facing a much tougher opponent in Southeast Missouri (7-3, 5-1), in a game where the Panthers will have to prove if its win over Tennessee State was just the Panthers picking on a weak defense, or if that first win was a sign the Panthers have finally cracked their own code.

Southeast Missouri is far from Tennessee State. The Redhawks are in second place in the OVC and with each week the stakes in its matchups grow exponentially. Tennessee State has not been playing for anything in weeks. Tennessee State was a team with glaring weaknesses that the Panthers gainfully exposed in the fourth quarter of their win. Southeast Missouri may be the most complete and sound team in the conference.

Yes, Southeast Missouri is not the team the Panthers beat a week ago for their first win of the season. The Redhawks are far better. But the Panthers feel if there was ever a time for them to go toe-to-toe with the Redhawks, its now.

“I would certainly rather be playing (Southeast Missouri) right now, after we figured out how to play our best football of the year,” Eastern head coach Adam Cushing said. “So yeah, it is always a decreased margin of error against a good football team, but the way that we played recently will allow us to have a chance to win.”

Southeast Missouri’s 5-1 OVC record jumps off the page, but the rest of the Redhawks’ numbers sit pretty standard with the rest of the conference. Southeast Missouri is third in points per game (29.5) and fourth in points allowed per game (26.4). Neither of those numbers, along with many of their statistics, are not particularly daunting, but what this tells Cushing about the Redhawks is that they are not bad at anything.

“The first thing that I noticed is they’re just in the middle of the pack in kind of every statistic except for redzone on offense and defense, but what that says isn’t that they’re not great, it’s that they’re not bad at anything,” Cushing said. “They know how to do everything. Maybe not the absolute best, but they’re well-coached, they’re a good football team and you said it well, they find ways to win games, they’ve got some veterans, they’ve got a good quarterback, they got the good receiver, their defense is going to do everything they can to get as many people near the box as they can to force you to get the ball (to the sides).”

Eastern and Southeast Missouri kickoff at 12 p.m. at O’Brien Field on Saturday.

 

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