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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EIU Football’s national and conference rankings after eight games

Prince Pappoe
Eastern Football team walks onto the field after timeout during their Homecoming football game Saturday afternoon.

Eastern’s football team has a current overall record of 5-3.

Although the Panthers lost their first two conference games, the team went into their bye week with an overtime win over the Bryant Bulldogs.

Eastern’s next game will be against the Lindenwood Lions in St. Charles, MO.

Let’s check the statistics on this year’s Eastern football team:

Multiple Panthers are ranked not just in the Big South-Ohio Valley Conference, but some Panthers are also ranked nationally.

Pierce Holley, a junior quarterback is ranked fifth in the Football Championship Subdivision in passing yards. Holley recorded 2,149 yards throughout eight games. (File)

Redshirt junior quarterback Pierce Holley is ranked first in the Big South-OVC conference in the passing category. Throughout eight games, Holley is 188 of 299 for 2,149 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Holley is also ranked nationally in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in multiple categories:

  • Fifth in passing yards (188 of 299 for 2,149 yards)
  • Sixth in completions per game (23.50 per game)
  • 11th in passing yards per game (268.62 per game)
  • 21st in passing touchdowns (13)
  • 40th in completion percentage (.629)

Four receivers from the Panthers are ranked in receiving yards in the Big South-OVC Conference: junior Eli Mirza (5), graduate Justin Thomas (7), sophomore Justin Bowick (8) and junior DeAirious Smith (11).

Throughout eight games, Mirza has recorded 493 receiving yards and one touchdown, Bowick recorded 431 receiving yards and five touchdowns, and Smith recorded 386 receiving yards and one touchdown.

Thomas recorded 339 receiving yards and four touchdowns in a span of six games with the Panthers this season.

Both Bowick and Mirza are ranked on the national level in the FCS. Bowick is ranked 15th for receiving touchdowns (5 touchdowns) and Mirza is ranked 30th for total receiving yards (493 yards).

Redshirt freshman MJ Flowers and redshirt sophomore Kevin Daniels are both ranked in the Big South-OVC Conference.

Flowers is ranked sixth in the conference in rushing yards as he recorded 437 yard and two touchdowns. Daniels is ranked 14th and recorded 297 yards and two touchdowns.

Eastern football is also ranked in the Big South-OVC Conference in multiple categories on the defensive side.

Redshirt junior defensive lineman Joel Barrows is ranked 11th in the FCS in the forced fumbles category. Barrows has recorded three forced fumbles within the eight games he has played in for the Panthers. Barrows also averages .38 forced fumbles per game.

Barrows is also ranked third in the Big South-OVC Conference in forced fumbles.

Redshirt sophomore safety Blake Ruffin is ranked 23rd in the FCS for interceptions per game. Ruffin has recorded three interceptions within the first eight games of the 2023 season. Ruffin averages .4 interceptions per game.

In the Big South-OVC Conference, Ruffin is ranked first for his three interceptions throughout the eight games.

Ruffin is also ranked seventh in the Big South-OVC in the tackling category. Ruffin recorded 38 solo tackles and 36 assisted tackles.

Ruffin is also ranked tenth in the conference in passes defended as he recorded three pass break ups and three interceptions.

Russell Dandy, a fifth year senior defensive back is ranked fourth in the Football Championship Subdivision in passes defended. Dandy recorded 13 pass break ups and one interception throughout eight games. (File)

Fifth-year defensive back Russell Dandy is ranked fourth in the FCS in passes defended so far in the 2023 season. Within the eight games played so far, Dandy recorded 13 pass break ups and one interception. Dandy averages 1.8 defended passes per game.

In the Big South-OVC Conference, Dandy is ranked first in the passes defended category for his 13 pass break ups throughout the eight games.

Junior defensive lineman Nicholas Oliveria-Chace and redshirt sophomore safety Kaelin Drakeford are both ranked in the conference in the fumbles recovered category.

Oliveria-Chace is ranked first with three fumbles recovered in eight games, and Drakeford is ranked second with two fumbles recovered in seven games.

Junior linebacker Elijawah Tolbert Is ranked fourth in the Big South-OVC Conference in the tackling category. Tolbert recorded 29 solo tackles and 36 assisted tackles.

Tolbert is also ranked fifth in the conference for forced fumbles. Tolbert has recorded 2 forced fumbles throughout the eight games he played so far in the season.

The Panthers have scored 186 points within the last eight games, and they average 23.25 points per game.

Eastern currently has 25 touchdowns in the season; two defensive touchdowns made by junior defensive back Tyris Harvey and sophomore safety NiJhay Burt, 10 rushing touchdowns and 13 passing touchdowns.

Throughout the season, one of the biggest struggles the team spends time improving on is third down conversions.

Eastern is currently 47 of 119 for third down conversions, which is a little less than 40 percent.

The Panthers are also 10 of 21 for their fourth down conversions, which is about 48 percent.

Currently, the Panthers are ranked seventh in the Big South-OVC Conference of their 1-2 conference record.

The Panthers lost two straight conference games against University of Tennessee-Martin and Southeast Missouri. Those two teams are currently undefeated in conference play.

Eastern secured a win over Bryant to get their first conference win of the season.

The Panthers’ next game will be Nov. 4 against the Lindenwood Lions. The Lions are also 1-2 in the conference, but they have a 3-4 overall record.

Kickoff is scheduled at 2 p.m. in St. Charles, MO.

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.
Tyriq Johnson, Assistant Photo Editor
Tyriq Johnson is a senior digital media technology major. This is his first year at The News.

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