Defense, newcomers make impact in opener


Robert Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

A group of Eastern defenders converge on an Indiana State ballcarrier in the season opener against the Sycamores on Aug. 28. The Eastern defense held the Sycamores to 245 yards of offense in the game, which the Panthers lost 26-21.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

The Eastern football team outgained Indiana State in a season opening loss Saturday evening in Terre Haute.

Turnovers cost the Panthers, leading to a 26-21 loss at the hands of the Sycamores. 

Despite the loss, the defensive unit for the Panthers performed well throughout. They held the Indiana State offense to 245 total yards of offense and allowing 17 points. 

One of the Sycamores’ touchdowns came on an interception return and they added 2 more points via safety.

After surrendering an Indiana State touchdown on the Sycamores’ first possession, the Panther defense forced punts on three of the next four possessions. 

They also made a stop after a second-quarter interception from Eastern quarterback Otto Kuhns put the Sycamores in prime scoring position. 

But Eastern held them to six yards on three plays, forcing a fourth-down field goal attempt that missed wide. 

Linebacker Jason Johnson led the Panthers with 8 total tackles. Johnson led the conference in tackles and tackles per game last season. 

One of Johnson’s fellow linebackers, Colin Bohanek finished with 6 total tackles and UCF transfer Elijah Benoit had 5 total tackles in his fiirst game with Eastern. 

The Panthers did not record a sack or turnover in the game, but defensive lineman Tim Varga recorded 3 quarterback hits and linemen Justin Growel, a transfer from Lake Erie College, and Jordan Miles each had 1 tackle for loss. 

Along with Benoit and Growel, several other new Panthers made an impact in their first games. 

Freshman running back Harrison Bey-Buie led the team with 11 carries for 57 yards and a touchdown. Syracuse transfer running back Markenzy Pierre had 11 carries for 47 yards. 

Wide receiver Tyler Ringwood, a transfer from Charlotte, caught 5 passes and led all players with 116 receiving yards. 

Newcomers also made an impact on special teams. 

Freshman superback Daniel Luoma handled kickoffs for the Panthers, recording 2 touchbacks on 4 kicks. 

Ohio Dominican transfer Logen Neidhardt took over punting duties for the Panthers and averaged 43.2 yards on 4 punts. 


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