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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COLUMN: Panther fans should not give up on EIU football

Ashanti Thomas
Staff profile for Zaria.

I have seen on social media platforms and I have heard from several people that they have lost some faith in this Eastern football team.

Hearing how quickly people have switched on this team made me want to address that Panther fans shouldn’t give up on this team because we lost to a really good UT Martin Skyhawks team.

Heading into Saturday’s game, the Panthers and the Skyhawks were the only teams in the Big South-Ohio Valley Conference that were 4-1.

The University of Georgia Bulldogs were the only team to beat UT Martin this season, and the Skyhawks even scored on the Bulldogs in that game.

It’s not common for Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) teams to beat a powerhouse team like Georgia, but scoring against a powerhouse team is still impressive.

Saturday’s game showed how much grit this Panther team has even when the odds are stacked against them.

The UT Martin Skyhawks came into Saturday’s game with redshirt sophomore running back Sam Franklin, who led in rushing yards in the Big South-OVC with 785 rushing yards.

Based on Saturday’s game, it was clear the Panthers’ defense did a great job at limiting Franklin’s rushing ability as he only rushed for 54 yards. That is only seven more yards Eastern’s defense allowed Franklin to rush compared to the University of Georgia’s defense.

Eastern’s defense made crucial plays throughout the whole game on Saturday, forcing four turnovers on a team that rarely turns the ball over.

Even though the Panthers lost, the offense still looked pretty good for most of the game.

Redshirt junior quarterback Pierce Holley had his best statistical game with the Panthers. Holley went 29 of 48 for 359 yards and four touchdowns which is the most touchdowns Holley has thrown in a single game with the Panthers.

There is a sense that this team has better chemistry than they had in previous years, and it shows.

The tight connections between Holley and junior wide receiver Eli Mirza and sophomore Justin Bowick made it clear that even though Holley is in his first year with the Panthers, his targets still trust him to make plays.

Holley targeted a total of eight players throughout the game: Mirza, Bowick, redshirt freshman running back MJ Flowers, junior wide receiver DeAirious Smith, graduate wide receiver Justin Thomas, junior wide receiver Cooper Willman, redshirt junior tight end Anthony Manaves and junior wide receiver Daniel Luoma.

Besides a couple of comments about the offense and the defense, the main player I saw people commenting on was senior kicker Stone Galloway.

An anonymous post on YikYak said, “The kicker missed 3/5 kicks that’s why we lost.”

Galloway missed a 24-yard field goal in the first quarter, a 51-yard field goal in the second quarter and missed the game-winning 40-yard field goal due to the ball being blocked.

I don’t feel like anyone should be talking negatively about a kicker unless you can successfully kick a field goal.

Most people know that Galloway kicked a 56-yard field goal to secure a win for the Panthers against the McNeese Cowboys. That field goal was the second longest-made field goal in program history.

It’s important to address that everyone is human. Everyone has an off day, but that shouldn’t pertain to Galloway’s past success with the Panthers.

It is too soon to give up on the Panthers. This is the best team Eastern has had in multiple years, and they are on a good path to do well for the rest of the season.

Don’t give up on Eastern football because they lost to a highly skilled UT Martin team.

Don’t negatively talk about Panther football even though this was one of the best games the offense and defense had.

Don’t lose faith in a talented Panthers team because of one close loss.

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, Photo Editor
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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