The regular season is over for the football teams of the OVC.
It was an unprecedented season, taking place in the spring rather than the fall, and only one game had to be canceled throughout the season.
That game was scheduled for April 11 between Eastern and Austin Peay, but the Governors did not have enough available players because of COVID issues and the season ended a week early for both teams.
Eastern finished the season in last place for the second-straight season, going 1-5.
Austin Peay finished 4-2 and in third place. They got to 4-2 by winning back-to-back games against ranked teams, Jacksonville State and Murray State, and were ranked 25th as a result.
Until last weekend, the losses against Austin Peay were the only losses for both Jacksonville State and Murray State, and they played each other for the OVC title and an automatic bid to the FCS playoffs.
Jacksonville State beat the Racers 28-14 to win its ninth OVC title. It was the final game in the OVC for the Gamecocks, who will be leaving the conference to join the Atlantic Sun Conference next season.
The Gamecocks finished the season with a 6-1 conference record and an overall record of 9-2. They went 3-1 in a slate of nonconference games in the fall.
They also had some of the top individual offensive and defensive players in the OVC.
Three of the top eight rushers in the OVC were Gamecocks. Running back Josh Samuel was fourth in the conference with 456 rushing yards, running back Uriah West was sixth with 405 and quarterback Zion Webb was eight with 296.
Webb was also second in the conference with 1,409 passing yards.
Tennessee-Martin quarterback John Bachus led the conference with 1,697 passing yards and tied for the OVC lead with 14 touchdowns.
Defensively, Jacksonville State defensive linemen DJ Coleman and Chris Hardie had 6 sacks and 4 sacks respectively, ranking first and third in the OVC.
Eastern also had one of the OVC’s top defensive players in linebacker Jason Johnson.
Johnson had 66 total tackles this season, leading the OVC even though Eastern played one less game than most OVC teams.
His average of 11 tackles per game was the highest in the OVC by nearly 2 tackles.
Eastern’s offense was tied for sixth in the conference averaging 20 points per game.
Running back Jordan Smith led the Panthers in rushing as a freshman with 278 yards, the 10th-most in the OVC.
Eastern superback Jay Vallie tied for seventh in the OVC with 3 receiving touchdowns.
The conference’s leading receiver was Austin Peay’s DeAngelo Wilson, who paced the conference with 562 yards despite playing just five games.
The OVC teams now look ahead to a regular fall season. Eastern will open up on Aug. 28 against Indiana State.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]