Panthers to play nationally-ranked Racers


Adam Tumino | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern freshman safety Jordan Vincent (0) and sophomore defensive lineman Tim Varga (97) chase Tennessee Tech quarterback Bailey Fisher out of the pocket in a game March 21 at O’Brien Field. Vincent had 2 tackles and Varga had 8 in the game, which Eastern won 28-20.

Adam Tumino, Editor-in-Chief

Coming off of its first win of the season, the Eastern football team has a tall task at hand if they are to get their second win.

The Panthers will be on the road Sunday against Murray State, which is the No. 19 team in the FCS on the STATS Media poll.

The Racers are 4-0 in OVC play this season and are tied atop the standings with Jacksonville State.

After winning three close games in a row, the Racers blew out Tennessee State 35-13 last week for their first decisive win of the season.

They are ranked third in the OVC in both scoring offense (27.3 points per game) and scoring defense (18.8 points per game).

Murray State’s offensive success has come despite the fact that their passing game is ranked last in the conference.

They are averaging 140.8 passing yards per game.

Redshirt-junior quarterback Preston Rice is 43-of-85 passing this season for 562 yards, 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.

The Racers have been much more effective on the ground, where they are averaging 165 rushing yards per game, the third-most in the OVC.

Freshman running back Damonta Witherspoon is leading the charge for the Racers with 307 rushing yards, which ranks third in the conference.

The Racers’ defense has also done its share of scoring this season.

They lead the OVC with 9 interceptions this season and have returned four of them for touchdowns.

Redshirt-sophomore cornerback Marcis Floyd leads the team with 2 interceptions, which is also tied for the most in the OVC, and has run one of them back for a touchdown.

Eastern entered its game against Tennessee Tech ranked last in the conference in scoring offense and defense, but is now tied for sixth in offense (17.5 points per game) and is in seventh in defense (29 points per game).

Eastern is also more productive in the running game than the passing game to this point ranking fourth and sixth in the conference in those categories respectively.

Freshman quarterback Otto Kuhns has started the last two games for the Panthers, and in those games is 31-of-49 passing for 298 yards, 4 touchdowns and an interception.

Sophomore running back Jaelin Benefield ranks seventh in the conference with 216 rushing yards while redshirt-freshman wide receiver Matt Judd leads the OVC with 234 kick return yards and ranks eighth with 326 all-purpose yards.

Sophomore linebacker Jason Johnson was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week this week after recording 15 tackles against Tennessee Tech. He leads the OVC this season with 44 total tackles.

The game Sunday is scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m.


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