Panthers drop Homecoming Game to Lions in heartbreaking double overtime loss


Rob Le Cates

Heather Galloway, mother of Stone Galloway, a junior kicker, and fans shout after the Lindenwood Lions gained possession of the ball, then scoring a 9-yard touchdown pass thus ending the Panther’s homecoming football game with a score of 37-34 Saturday afternoon at O’Brien Field.

Autumn Schulz, Sports Editor

It all came down to one play in double overtime. 

The time on the clock in the fourth quarter was running out, but the fight left in the Eastern football team as a tied score of 24-24 shone on the scoreboard, was not as the Panthers’ hunger to win was felt throughout O’Brien Field.  

On its first overtime possession, Lindenwood and its veteran quarterback Cade Brister hit senior wide receiver Payton Rose on a two-yard touchdown pass, giving the Lions a 31-24 lead. 

Justin Williams (28), a junior running back, sticks out his arm after evading a tackle to prepare himself against Colin Bohanek (45), a sophomore defensive lineman, during the homecoming game against the Lindenwood Lions at O’Brien Field Saturday afternoon. Williams ran for 69 yards, scoring one touchdown. Bohanek had one interception. The Panthers lost 37-34 to the Lindenwood Lions in a double overtime. (Rob Le Cates)

The Panthers answered right back during their opening overtime possession after quarterback Jonah O’Brien hit Isaiah on a 24-yard pass, putting the Panthers at the one-yard line, allowing O’Brien to take the ball in on a one-yard run to tie the game, sending the game into double overtime. 

The Lions’ defense was able to hold the Panthers to a field goal during the Panthers’ second overtime possession. 

A successful 22-yard field goal attempt by kicker Stone Galloway put the Panthers up 34-31. 

However, the second and final possession of the double overtime ended with Brister hitting senior wide receiver Kobe Smith on a 9-yard touchdown pass, sealing the 37-34 win over the Panthers 

Head coach Chris Wilkerson said the Lions simply made a few more plays and a few less mistakes than the Panthers.  

“I am proud of the kids’ effort, the coaches’ effort, we just made a few mistakes and didn’t make quite enough plays to finish the way that we had hoped,” Wilkerson said. “Certainly, my hats off to Lindenwood, their quarterback was certainly everything we had seen the week before. They made a few more plays than we did and certainly we were in an overtime game and just came up short.” 

Brister finished the game passing for 302 yards and three touchdowns with one rushing touchdown and three interceptions.  

This was the first overtime game for the Panthers since the 2018 Homecoming Game win over Murray State but their drive to win was evident as many players, on both sides of the ball, stepped up to make important plays. 

One of those players was redshirt wide receiver Isaiah Hill, who made his long-awaited return to O’Brien Field as he has battled many injuries within the last two years.  

Isaiah Hill (7), a redshirt senior wide receiver, grabs hold of the Lion’s Jayden Patrick (15), a freshman defensive back, so the Panther’s quarterback, Jonah O’Brien, could run past during the homecoming football game against the Lindenwood Lions at O’Brien Field Saturday afternoon. The Panthers lost 37-34 to the Lindenwood Lions in a double overtime. (Monique Peterson)

Hill’s most recent injury in preseason camp delayed his return for the 2022 season but he was able to return to the field much earlier than last season. 

Hill finished the game with 77 yards on five carries, leading the Panthers.  

Hill said that returning to the field during the Homecoming Game was something he has been looking forward to. 

“Man, super special man, I love this school and a lot of people here,” Hill said. “It means a lot for me to just be coming back from injury and for the coaches to trust me enough to put me out there. It feels good to just be making plays once again, so, I’m very happy.” 

The 24-yard pass from O’Brien that led to the tie in the first overtime session was a play that Hill expected to make. 

“Overtime. You know, this is where big time players make big time plays,” Hill said. “So, you know, I just had to, when the ball was in the air, I had to catch it, it had to be mine. You know, luckily, Jonah threw a great ball, and I was able to catch it and get some yards.” 

O’Brien and Dom Shoffner split time at the quarterback position as O’Brien led both the passing and rushing game between the two. O’Brien was 14-of-21, passing for 152 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 38 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns. 

Players on both teams, the Panthers and Lions, scramble after a ball was fumbled during the homecoming football game against the Lindenwood Lions at O’Brien Field Saturday afternoon. The Panthers lost 37-34 to the Lindenwood Lions in a double overtime. (Emmie German)

There were many plays made throughout the game that Panther fans will not forget. 

One of them came in the second quarter when quarterback Jonah O’Brien passed to Cooper Willman on the right side, then, Willman hit Hill on a 25-yard pass, setting the Panthers up for a field goal, putting them up 10-7. 

The drive to win for the Panthers picked up in the third quarter as the Lions had a 14-10 lead at halftime. 

Brister was able to march into Panther territory late in the third quarter. 

A roughing the passer penalty put the Lions at the 20-yard line, seeing it as an opportunity, Brister hit Abe Haerr on a 20-yard touchdown pass.  

On their second possession of the third quarter, the Panthers gave themselves a 17-14 lead after O’Brien hit wide receiver DeAirious Smith on a 13-yard touchdown pass.  

DeAirious Smith (88), a sophomore wide receiver, catches a thrown ball during the homecoming football game against the Lindenwood Lions at O’Brien Field Saturday afternoon. Smith had one interception. The Panthers lost 37-34 to the Lions during double overtime. (Han Byer)

The Lions opened the fourth quarter with a successful 27-yard field goal attempt, tying the game 17-17. Then, junior linebacker Alexander Oyawale was able to recover a fumble forced by defensive lineman Joel Barrows and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown, giving the Panthers a 24-17 lead. 

Oyawale said that the defense showed up at O’Brien Field, but the game simply fell short.  

“It really did show today I think all my brothers, we all came out, they all fight for one another,” Oyawale said. “So, the last straw this game didn’t fall our way.” 

Tyris Harvey and Nick Coates led the Panthers defense with 10 tackles each.  

Harvey said that the Panthers did not play until time ran out, crediting that for the reason why the Lions walked away with the win. 

“It showed until the last part where we gave up the last play because we play really hard as a defense and we make a lot of good plays, and we also leave a lot of plays out on the field. We just got to play until the whistle blows and today, we ain’t do that, that’s why they won.” 

Isaiah Hill (7), a redshirt senior wide receiver, runs past the Lion’s defensive line during the homecoming football game against the Lindenwood Lions at O’Brien Field Saturday afternoon. The Panthers lost 37-34 to the Lindenwood Lions in a double overtime. (Han Byer)

The Lions used their rushing game to their advantage as they were able to move down the field late in the fourth quarter and tie the game 24-24 on a rushing touchdown by Brister, showing a lapse in the Panthers’ defense before heading to overtime. 

Harvey said that the Panthers need to work on the little things before taking on Tennessee State next week.  

“Execute on the plays that we didn’t execute on. You got to make all the plays that we can because the game is going to come down to the last quarter and last play, just like it did today. So, we got to capitalize on that.” 

Hill said that the Panthers need time to come together before facing the Tigers next week. 

“I mean, Lindenwood is a good team. I think we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit,” Hill said. “We left a lot of money on the table. So, you know, I think cleaning up the little things, mastering the mundane on offense and you know, just coming together as a team will help us win more games.” 

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