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

Flowers rushed more than Cowboys’ offense to help Panthers secure second home win

Freshman+running+back+MJ+Flowers+%2820%29+celebrates+as+after+scoring+a+touchdown+at+O%E2%80%98Brien+Field+Saturday+afternoon.%0AMJ+Flowers+rushed+for+272+yards+on+37+carries.+The+EIU+panthers+beat+the+Mcneese+St+cowboys+31-28.
Tyriq Johnson
Freshman running back MJ Flowers (20) celebrates as after scoring a touchdown at O‘Brien Field Saturday afternoon. MJ Flowers rushed for 272 yards on 37 carries. The EIU panthers beat the Mcneese St cowboys 31-28.

Redshirt freshman MJ Flowers dominated for the Panthers last Saturday, rushing for 272 yards and scoring a touchdown in a comeback victory against the McNeese Cowboys Saturday afternoon at O’Brien Field.

Flowers rushed more than McNeese’s entire offense as McNeese recorded a total of 271 rushing yards.

His efforts put him third for most rushing yards in a game in EIU history, 34 yards away from the school record.

Alongside his rushing stats, Flowers reeled in six catches for 26 yards. He ended the game with 298 all-purpose yards.

Flowers touched the ball 43 times on Saturday combining catches and carries.

The Panthers’ coaching staff emphasized improving the run game leading up to Saturday, so Flowers figured he would get a heavy workload.

“I wasn’t expecting 37 carries,” Flowers said jokingly. “But definitely was prepared through practice, Coach [Wilkerson] told us this week ‘foot on the gas, don’t let off the pedal.’”

“We knew we wanted to run the football a little more efficiently this week.” Head Coach Wilkerson said.

Flowers realized how important it was to gain momentum in the game early.

In the first quarter, Flowers recorded a 65-yard sprint down the right sideline on Eastern’s second offensive play.

Flowers spoke on how a run like that is vital for EIU because it allows them to set the tone for the game.

Freshman running back MJ Flowers has the third best record for rushing yards in a single game in EIU history. (File)

“We always wanna come out and set a tone,” Flowers said. “You know, that was the second play of the game so doing that set us up in a good position.”

By halftime, Flowers had already rushed for 151 yards from 15 touches. He also recorded five catches for 23 yards from five targets.

19 of his receiving yards were yards after the catch.

Flowers scored late in the fourth quarter on a six-yard run up the middle.

This score tied the game at 28-28, setting up the Panthers’ defense for the late game stop which led to senior Stone Galloway’s game-winning field goal.

Galloway had a few words of praise for MJ after his emotional game-winner.

“Oh man, watching MJ do his thing, it was so exciting,” Galloway said. “After his first one, he got hit in the gap and went outside for that 60-yard gain, I went up to him and hit his hand and said, ‘Dude just finds a way.’ It’s just really cool seeing him do his thing.”

Coach Wilkerson restated his faith in Flowers postgame.

“MJ, like a lot of guys on our team, was ready to step up,” Wilkerson said. “He’s shown flashes of greatness, and he had an opportunity today to show it, he had 37 carries. He made the most of his opportunity.”

“Shout out to the whole entire coaching staff; shout out Coach Wilk,” Flowers said.

He followed this with his most important comment: “Go Panthers!”

Aidan Cusack can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].

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