The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

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Panthers start season opener with first shutout since 2016

Eastern beat Indiana State University 27-0 at Memorial Stadium on Thursday evening.

To open the season off, the Panthers defeat the Indiana State Sycamores 27-0 Thursday night. (Ashanti Thomas)

Two interceptions from the Sycamores resulted in two of the four touchdowns for the Panthers.

With 55 seconds left in the first half, junior defensive back Tyris Harvey recorded the interception and ran the ball for a 19-yard touchdown.

“Tyris is a guy that has worked so hard at his craft,” Head Coach Chris Wilkerson said.

Defensive back Tyris Harvey (7) and defensive back Nick Coates (12), tackle Sycamore wide receiver Kevin Barnett (0). The Panthers won 27-0 against the Sycamores Thursday night. (Ashanti Thomas)

That was Harvey’s second interception return while with Eastern.

34 seconds later, sophomore safety NiJhay Burt recorded the second interception for the Panthers. Burt ran the ball for a 67-yard touchdown.

Burt said the only thing going through his mind was to keep going and not to get tackled.

Burt’s interception return is the 10th-longest in program history.

Safety NiJhay Burt (34), intercepts the ball for a 67 yard return touchdown. The Panthers won 27-0 against the Sycamores Thursday night. (Ashanti Thomas)

Panthers’ redshirt junior quarterback Pierce Holley debuted with the Panthers and went 19 of 30 for 244 yards and two touchdowns.

Holley’s first passing touchdown was a throw to sophomore wide receiver Justin Bowick Jr., and Bowick Jr. ran the ball for 35 yards for the first touchdown of the game.

Holley’s second touchdown was a quick pass to redshirt junior tight end Anthony Manaves.

Manaves ran two yards for the final touchdown of the game.

Holley also recorded one interception late in the fourth quarter.

“I feel like we were clicking everywhere except in the red-zone,” Holley said.

Junior wide receiver Eli Mirza was Holley’s top target. Mirza finished the day with four catches for 82 yards.

Sycamore quarterbacks, Evan Olaes and Gavin Screws recorded two interceptions in the game, and the Panthers’ defense did not allow the Sycamores to gain any momentum.

“Our defense really held a standard for us today,” Mirza said. “They really pushed us to motivate us on the offensive side, and we came out and were able to score some points.”

ISU finished the game with 217 total yards compared to Eastern’s 338 total yards.

“I’m really excited with how our defense played,” Wilkerson said.

Junior linebacker Elijawah Tolbert led the Panthers with 11 tackles, and six of them were from the first half of the game.

“Go Panthers!” Linebacker Elijawah Tolbert said as he finishes his interview with WEIU after their victory against Indiana State. The Panthers won 27-0 against the Sycamores Thursday night. (Ashanti Thomas)

Tolbert also forced a fumble and ended the Sycamore’s final drive with an interception.

Junior defensive lineman Colby Smith wrapped up the third quarter by forcing a fumble that was recovered by redshirt junior Joel Barrows.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Phoenix Porter had seven tackles, and both junior defensive back Ira Armstead II and redshirt junior defensive lineman Tre’jon Lewis ended the game with six tackles.

The Panthers are traveling to Bowling Green, OH to play the Bowling Green Falcons on Saturday, Sept. 9. The game is scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m.

Zaria Flippin can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].

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About the Contributors
Zaria Flippin, Sports Editor
Zaria Flippin is a junior sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.
Ashanti Thomas, Photographer
Ashanti Thomas is a senior digital media major. She previously served as photo editor and assistant photo editor at The News.

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