Football team falls to Tennessee State at Nissan Stadium


Monique Peterson

Zay Gentry, a defensive back, attempts to tackle a player from Tennessee State at their football game Saturday afternoon at the Nissan Stadium. The Panthers lost to the Tigers 37-17.

Kate Stevens, Assistant Sports Editor

EIU’s rough start in the first half against Tennessee State led to their 37-17 loss Saturday afternoon at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tenn.

The Panthers began the game with the ball and quarterback Jonah O’Brien threw an interception on the first play of the drive.

Quarterback Dom Shoffner was injured late in the first quarter which left O’Brien as the sole quarterback for EIU.

The defense looked on top of things as they held the Tigers to one field goal in the first quarter.

The offense and defense then started to fall apart as TSU started gaining momentum after their second field goal as they went on to score a total of 24 points alone in the second quarter.

Coach Chris Wilkerson said the teams play in the first half was unacceptable.

“The first half was certainly unacceptable and not what we’re looking for,” Wilkerson said.

Going into halftime, the score was 27-0. EIU came out of halftime with a chip on their shoulder and scored 14 unanswered third quarter points.

Wide receiver Nile Hill said going into the half that the team had to wake up and that the slow start was disappointing for them.

On their first drive of the second half, Hill hauled in the 29-yard touchdown pass from O’Brien which brought excitement to the EIU sideline as they put their first points on the board.

“It was exciting,” Hill said. “We were trying to rally the troops and get ready to come back. They put up a lot of points in the first half, so we were trying to do the same thing in the second half. It felt good.”

O’Brien threw another touchdown pass for 20 yards to wide receiver Lazerick Eatman near the end of the third quarter.

Safety Jordan Vincent said that response by the team was the main goal going into the second half.

“Just keeping everybody together, I think was a big thing on the sideline and in the locker room,” Vincent said. “Going into the half just keep our main goal the main goal. Just bring everybody together so we could keep working on our agenda.”

TSU scored 10 more points in the fourth quarter to claim the 37-17 win.

As the team was unable to come up with the win, Wilkerson was proud of the fight he saw from his team.

“The fact that they continued to play hard for each other in the second half when obviously things did not look good at halftime,” Wilkerson said. “But I was very happy with the way that they played in the second half and the amount of class that they played with.”

Vincent, who had a good game with two pass break ups and nine total tackles said he and the team had some work to do going forward.

“Obviously, we got a lot of things to work on as a whole, myself too, just to help us be victorious,” Vincent said.

While it was a disappointing loss for EIU, it was a surreal experience for the players and coaches as they were able to play at the NFL Tennessee Titans stadium near downtown Nashville. Both Hill and Vincent said it was an exciting experience for the team.

As they moved to a 2-5 (1-1 OVC) record, the Panthers return home for a game next week during Family Weekend at EIU. They will be facing Tennessee Tech at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.