Football team falls to 0-2 with loss to Skyhawks

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

The Eastern football team had several chances in the fourth quarter to cut into to Tennessee-Martin’s lead, but the Panthers were unable to capitalize on them Sunday afternoon in a 28-15 loss the Skyhawks.

The Panthers outscored the Skyhawks 8-0 in the fourth quarter and gained 181 yards of offense while holding their opponent to just 49.

But Eastern’s late drives stalled out and they fell to 0-2 on the season. 

All three of Eastern’s drives in that started in the fourth quarter ended with the Panthers turning the ball over on downs.

The first such drive began with freshman DeAirious Smith blocking a punt for a safety with about 12 minutes remaining in the game, giving the Panthers 2 points and possession.

Their drive lasted just 5 plays and covered 29 yards before a failed fourth-down conversion handed the ball back to Tennessee-Martin.

Eastern would get another chance on the ensuing Tennessee-Martin possession when a pass from the Skyhawk’s quarterback John Backus was deflected high into the air, landing in the arms of Eastern safety Raymond Crittenden.

  The Eastern offense was not able to punish the Skyhawks for the turnover, once again stalling and turning it over on downs.

The Panthers would get one more chance on offense 2:22 left in the game after the defense made another big play, stopping the Skyhawks on a fourth-down play that would have all but sealed the game.

This time Eastern was able to put more of a drive together, covering 68 yards on 11 plays, getting down to the Skyhawk’s 8-yard line.

Another fourth-down failure gave the ball back to Tennessee-Martin, allowing the Skyhawks to run down the final 42 seconds.

Eastern quarterback Harry Woodbery bounced back a bit after struggling in the Panthers’ opener last weekend.

He was 26-for-49 passing for 279 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also threw an interception, which was returned for a Skyhawks’ touchdown.

Redshirt-freshman wide receiver Matt Judd, who had 112 kick return yards in the opener, made an impact on special teams and offense. He had 98 return yards on 3 attempts, including a long of 53 yards, and caught 5 passes for 73 yards and a touchdown.

The Eastern defense had a strong showing as well, holding the Skyhawks to 326 total yards. In addition to Crittenden’s interception, they also forced three fumbles and recovered one.

Sophomore linebackers Jason Johnson and Anthony Shockey led the team with 8 tackles each while senior defensive lineman Dytarious Johnson recorded 3 tackles and forced a fumble in his first game of the season.

The Panthers will be on the road again for their next game March 14 when they play Tennessee State.


Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]