Eastern Illinois knocks off No. 25 Tennessee StatePosted:
CHARLESTON (via eiupanthers.com) -- For the second straight year the Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State football game came down to one play to end the contest and for the second straight year Eastern Illinois secondary made that play as the No. 19 ranked Panthers held on for a 35-34 win over No. 25 Tennessee State.
Last season Jourdan Wickliffe picked off a pass in overtime to hand the Panthers a three point win. On Saturday night Nick Horne knocked down a last effort pass from near midfield to improve EIU's record to 4-2 overall, 2-1 in the OVC. TSU suffered its first loss of the season falling to 4-1, 1-1 in the OVC.
In a back-and-forth game Tennessee State took its first lead of the game 12 seconds into the fourth quarter as Ronald Butler connected with Steven Newbold for a 44-yard touchdown pass. It was the second long touchdown pass of the game for Butler as he passed for 303 yards. Newbold was one of two TSU wide receivers over 100-yards finishing with 121 yards on four catches. Patrick Smith had 160 yards on seven catches including a 56-yard grab late in the third quarter that brought TSU to within a point.
Eastern Illinois answered on their first drive of the fourth quarter driving 80-yards in ten plays. Devin Church caught a 4-yard screen pass from Mitch Kimble and following a Nick Bruno extra point, EIU led 35-34. Church caught seven passes for 37 yards with two touchdowns. He added 94 yards rushing with another touchdown.
TSU drove into EIU territory but the Tigers missed a 46-yard field goal with three minutes remaining. EIU took over and gained one first down but was unable to run the clock out. Cody Edwards had a 42-yard punt downed by Camden Meade at the TSU four yard line. Butler hit Newbold for a pass to get the ball to the TSU 44. Butler's final heave ended with Horne getting his third pass break-up of the game.
EIU opened with a 14-0 lead in the first quarter with Kimble rushing for a 9-yard score and Church adding a 1-yard score. EIU rushed for 221 yards and three touchdowns against one of the best run defenses in the OVC. Korliss Marshall tacked on 66 yards including third quarter touchdown.
Lane Clark scored TSU's first points of the game with a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter. He would add a 52-yard field goal just before half as EIU took a 21-13 lead to the locker room.
Earl Harrison scored from three yards out to bring the Tigers to within 21-20 with 6:03 to play in the third quarter. Marshall's touchdown gave EIU an eight point lead. Marshall added 102 yards in kick returns including a 66-yard return to open the game that helped set up the Panthers first touchdown.
Kimble was 19-of-31 for 180 yards and two touchdowns as he returned following a two-game hiatus due to injury. Kimble added 34 yards rushing.
Seth McDonald led the EIU defense making 11 tackles. David Johnson made nine tackles with a sack and 1.5 tackles for loss.
Chris Collins and Laquarius Cook both had 12 tackles to lead TSU. Collins added a tackle for loss, interception and pass break-up.
During halftime of the game Eastern Illinois honored its 2016 Athletic Hall of Fame Class inducted at a luncheon earlier in the day. Members of the Class of 2016 include Jeff Christensen, Brett Nommensen, Sandyn Short Connolly, Gabe Spezia and Dr. Gail Richard.