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

EIU Football ends regular season with best record since 2013

Eastern+football+team+celebrates+after+getting+a+interception+against+UT+Martin+at+O%E2%80%98Brien+Field+Saturday+afternoon.
Tyriq Johnson
Eastern football team celebrates after getting a interception against UT Martin at O‘Brien Field Saturday afternoon.

It has been six years since the Panthers had a winning season, and it has been an additional four years since the team won at least eight games in the regular season.

Eastern won their last game of the regular season against Robert Morris 28-14 Saturday afternoon to end their regular season with an overall record of 8-3.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the player and coaches,” Panthers’ Head Coach Chris Wilkerson said. “The guys really worked their tail off.”

The Panthers finished the regular season with a 4-2 record.

Here are five key numbers to remember after the Panthers’ performance:

3: Redshirt sophomore defensive lineman Drake Van Hyfte recorded three solo sacks against the Colonials.

Van Hyfte was the lone Panther to record a sack throughout the game as his contribution resulted in the Colonials losing 18 yards throughout those three sacks.

Van Hyfte also finished with five tackles against Robert Morris.

4: Four different Panthers scored the four touchdowns for the Panthers: graduate wide receiver Justin Thomas, junior wide receivers Eli Mirza and DeAirious Smith and redshirt freshman running back MJ Flowers.

Junior wide receiver Eli Mirza scored the first touchdown for the Panthers against the Robert Morris Colonials. (File)

Mirza was the first of the four Panthers to score late in the first quarter. Redshirt junior quarterback Pierce Holley threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Mirza to give the Panthers an early lead over the Colonials.

Junior kicker Julian Patino secured the extra point to help to Panthers obtain a 7-0 lead to end the first quarter.

Smith and Thomas scored the next two touchdowns for the Panthers in the second quarter. Holley threw touchdown passes to both Smith (18-yard pass) and Thomas (14-yard pass).

Thomas’ touchdown ended the second quarter as a pass interference flag on the Colonials put the Panther offense in better position for an additional six points.

Flowers’ rushed the ball for 38 yards for the fourth and final touchdown for the Panthers as Eastern took a 28-7 lead with about seven and a half minutes left in the game.

5: Eastern’s defense recorded five pass breakups from four different Panthers.

Redshirt sophomore safety Kaelin Drakeford led the team with two pass breakups.

Safety redshirt sophomore Kaelin Drakeford (22) led the Panthers’ defense with two pass breakups against the Robert Morris Colonials. (File)

Graduate defensive back Russell Dandy, redshirt sophomore safety Blake Ruffin and junior defensive back Tyris Harvey each recorded one pass breakup against the Colonials.

179: Flowers rushed for a total of 179 yards; which is 122 more yards than the entire Robert Morris offense.

This is the third time this season Flowers has rushed more yards than the opposing offense.

226: Holley was 23 of 33 for 226 yards today against the Colonials.

Holley also recorded three passing touchdowns as well as his longest throw being a 40-yard catch by sophomore wide receiver Justin Bowick.

Holley also recorded zero interceptions for the game as the Panthers closed out the season with a win.

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

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About the Contributors
Zaria Flippin
Zaria Flippin, Sports Editor
Zaria Flippin is a junior sports media relations major. This is her first year at The News.
Ashanti Thomas
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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