Early losses abound for OVC football teams this season


Robert Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern defensive coordinator addresses his defense during the Panthers’ 26-21 loss to Indiana State on Aug. 28.

Adam Tumino, Sports Editor

Each OVC football team has played at least one game this season, and five of the conference’s seven teams have lost their opening game. 

Eastern is the only OVC team to have played twice, with an opening loss to Indiana State in Week 0 and then a 46-0 loss to SEC opponent South Carolina. 

Austin Peay is one of two OVC teams with a win, and the only OVC team to be ranked in the top 25. The No. 17 Governors were ranked 20th in the preseason, but moved up in the polls after beating No. 18 Chattanooga 30-20. 

It was Austin Peay’s third-straight win against a ranked FCS opponent. The Governors’ defense held the Mocs to just 228 yards of total offense while quarterback Draylen Ellis was 23-of-33 passing for 325 yards and 4 touchdowns. 

Murray State also won its opener, beating Mississippi Valley State 35-0. The Racers wound up just outside the top 25 this week, falling just 10 points shy of No. 25 Richmond in the poll. 

Murray State ran all over the Delta Devils, gaining 312 rushing yards. All 5 of their touchdowns came via the running game, including 4 scores from quarterback Preston Rice. 

The rest of the conference was not as successful. 

Southeast Missouri ran into a tough opponent in No. 7 Southern Illinois, losing 47-21 to the Salukis. The Redhawks were outgained by the Salukis 553-243.

Tennessee Tech faced off against Samford, losing to the Bulldogs 52-14. Samford quarterback Liam Welch threw for 370 yards and 4 touchdowns in the game. The score was 17-7 at halftime, but Samford scored 35 unanswered points in the second half to seal the win. 

Tennessee-Martin gave up the most points of any OVC team in their opener, losing to Western Kentucky 59-21. The Hilltoppers have last season’s leading passer Bailey Zappe, who transferred during the offseason. 

Zappe was 28-of-35 for 424 yards and a whopping 7 touchdowns. 

Tennessee State had to wait the longest for their opener, playing Grambling in the Black College Football Hall of Fame Classic in Canton, Ohio, on Sept. 5. 

Grambling won the game 16-10, beating Tennessee State in head coach Eddie George’s first game. Tennessee State outgained Grambling by 46 yards, but 150 penalty yards gave the game to Grambling. 

All seven OVC teams will back in action Sept. 11. 


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