Football team to play Lindenwood for Homecoming Game


Monique Peterson

Number 29, Kendi Young, a sophomore runningback, runs with the ball during drills at football practice at O’Brien Field Wednesday afternoon.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

The Eastern football team will be taking on Lindenwood for the 104th Homecoming Game at O’Brien Field this Saturday. 

The Panthers are coming off their second consecutive win of the season as they beat Northwestern State 35-27 last Saturday. The rushing game was a huge reason why the Panthers took the win over the Demons. 

The Panthers rushed for 340 yards and the game before that, against Murray State, the Panthers rushed for 339. 

It was the first time the Panthers have won back-to-back games since 2017. The Panthers have not won a Homecoming Game since the 2018 season with a 24-21 win over UT Martin. 

Coch Wilkerson said that the mindset for the team going up against the Lions with two wins in the win column is simple; the Panthers are focused on themselves. 

“It is still about improving and worrying about ourselves. They’re going to present some tremendous challenges for us, they’ve got a phenomenal offense,” Wilkerson said. “Their defense is a little bit young in some spots, they have given up some points and yards, but they know exactly who they are as a football team. Their quarterback has been phenomenal, they have scored a ton of points, they are a really well coached team. So, we are going to have to play very well to give ourselves a chance.” 

Against the Demons, the Panthers switched their quarterbacks every series. Jonah O’Brien and Dom Shoffner have led the Panthers to their past two wins. 

Shoffner rushed for 134 yards while O’Brien rushed for 64. They combined for four rushing touchdowns while Shoffner had one throwing touchdown. 

Wilkerson said switching O’Brien and Shoffner will continue to be common occurrence.  

“It’s certainly the plan. You know, again, both guys have been phenomenal in terms of being supportive with each other. They’ve made plays when we’ve asked them to, whether it’s with their arm or with their feet, they’ve both done a good job managing the offense and taking the guys up and down the field and putting the ball in the endzone. Most importantly, taking care of the football the last two weeks.” 

The Panthers’ defense forced three turnovers against the Demons while also picking off multiple passes. The Panthers are third in the FCS with nine interceptions this season. 

Sophomore defensive back Nick Coates was one of three Panthers to have six tackles against the Demons. 

Coates said that improvement is on the forefront of the Panthers’ defense minds. 

“Right now, we can improve on a lot more,” Coates. “We’ve lost a lot of opportunities in the game already; we’ve left a lot on the field. We’ve got 13 more to go, so I mean, we have half the season left and I think we really just need to produce more.” 

The Lions are 3-2 overall on the season and they are coming off 52-49 win over Central Arkansas. Veteran quarterback Cade Brister leads the passing game with more than 1,600 yards. 

Brister threw for 413 yards and two touchdowns while adding five rushing touchdowns. 

Tyrone Griffin leads the defense with 32 tackles this season. 

Coates said that the game plan the Panthers have will lead to the win. 

“He’s got experience, he’s smart, but I think the game plan that we have set up for this going to set us up to win pretty big.” 

Sophomore running back Kendi Young is enjoying his return to the Panthers this season after battling an injury earlier in the season. Young had 47 yards on 10 carries last week. 

Young said that the offense is simply working on execution to prepare for the Lions. 

“I think we’re just locked in better and better every week, just working on executing, basically.” 

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. and the first 1,000 fans will receive an EIU rally towel. 

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