Football team to honor seniors Saturday


Rob Le Cates | The Daily Eastern News

Eastern running back Kendi Young runs the ball past a defender in the Panthers’ Homecoming Game against Tennessee State on Oct. 23. Eastern lost 28-0 to the Tigers at O’Brien Field.

Autumn Schulz, Assistant Sports Editor

The Eastern football will be honoring its 14 seniors this Saturday at O’Brien field prior to their final game of the season against Murray State. 

Saturday’s game will mark the second time this season that the Panthers and the Racers have met, following 22-6 loss in October for the Panthers. 

The Panthers are coming off a bye-week following a 42-26 loss to Austin Peay on Nov. 6, putting them at 1-9 overall and 1-4 in the OVC. 

The Racers have won two straight games as they will enter Saturday’s competition 5-5 overall, and 2-3 in the OVC. 

Head coach Adam Cushing said that the Panthers have spent these last few weeks keeping their bodies healthy in order to play one last game. 

“We practiced a few times last week, but kept contact to a minimum,” he said. “This late in the year, it’s more about getting bodies healthy and ready to play one more game.” 

The Panthers will be going up against Racer quarterback DJ Williams who was named Stats Perform National Freshman of the Week on Monday. 

Last Saturday against Southeast Missouri, Williams rushed for over 100 yards and passed for nearly 200, including the ninth longest pass in school history at 73 yards. Defensively, the Racers are led by Eric Samuta with 69 tackles. 

Cushing said that in order to be successful against the Racers, the Panthers need to play their best 60 minutes of football. 

“This will be our second time playing Murray in 2021,” he said. “They’re a really good football team and they play the game the right way. We need to play our best 60 minutes to win.” 

The Panthers will continue to rely on their pass-defense this weekend. Against the Governors on Nov. 6, the defense has three fumble recoveries, putting them at second in the FCS for fumbles recovered. 

Linebacker Jason Johnson leads the OVC in tackles with 59 and is first in the nation with three fumble recoveries. Johnson had 6 tackles against the Governors. Linebacker Colin Bohanek led the Panthers defensively against the Governors with 8 tackles. 

Offensively, the Panthers will be riding on the back of returning wide receiver back Isaiah Hill. Against the Governors, Hill caught ten passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Hill is now leading the Panthers with 26 receptions and 383 yards. 

Freshman Quarterback Otto Kuhns is 79-of-171 and has passed for 881 yards on the season with eight interceptions and six touchdowns.  

“Certainly, we haven’t lived up to our, or anyone’s, expectations. But we’re excited for one more opportunity to play football for each other this weekend,” he said. “I think it’s special when you get to play the final game of the season at home, as the seniors get to play their final college game here. We have a great group of seniors and we want them to end their career on a high note.” 


Autumn Schulz can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]