EKU takes control of OVC with win at E. Illinois

CHARLESTON, Ill. – Junior Taylor Long and freshman Logan O’Connor combined for five field goals while junior quarterback Allan Holland threw for a career-high 321 yards and two scores as the Eastern Kentucky University football team defeated #16 Eastern Illinois Saturday afternoon, 28-21. With the win, the Colonels (4-2, 3-0 OVC) knocked the Panthers (3-3, 2-1) out of the unbeaten ranks in league action.

Long went 4-for-4 in field goal attempts with a long of 34 yards to remain perfect on the year (9-of-9). Meanwhile, Holland completed 30-of-44 (68.2 percent) passes including touchdown strikes of 20 and 47 yards against the Panthers.

After taking a 15-14 lead into the locker room, the Colonels scored on three of their first four possessions in the second half to put the game away. O’Connor chipped in with his lone field goal, a 44-yard attempt, on Eastern’s opening possession.

Midway through the third quarter, Holland and senior Kyle Barber hooked up for two completions worth 44 yards to push the Colonels back into field goal range. Long finished the 11-play drive with his fourth goal to extend Eastern Kentucky’s lead to 21-14.

Eastern Kentucky then held Eastern Illinois without a point on a 1st-and-goal scenario to begin the fourth quarter before responding with one more scoring drive. Senior Bobby Washington began the drive with his longest run of the day, 15 yards. Holland then found junior Steven Sizemore for 15 yards to move the ball to midfield. Facing a 3rd-and-5 from the EIU 47-yard line, Holland avoided the Panther rush and found Barber wide open behind the defense for a touchdown pass. Those points stretched the EKU advantage to 28-14.

Eastern Illinois made one final charge, scoring a touchdown with 1:30 remaining to cut the deficit to seven, 28-21. The Panthers then attempted an on-side kick, but the ball bounced Eastern Kentucky’s way allowing the Colonels to run out the clock.

In the first half, Eastern Kentucky reached the red zone four times only to come came away with 15 points. On Eastern Illinois’ second play of the game, a lateral pass was thrown away allowing senior Derrick Huff to fall on the ball at the Panther 11-yard line. The EIU defense held the Colonels to three points off the turnover.

Another Colonel field goal on their second drive, this time a 32-yard make by Long put EKU ahead, 6-0.

Eastern Illinois struck with two big plays in the second quarter to grab a 14-9 lead. Panther quarterback Bodie Reeder found Jason Fisher for a 29-yard touchdown strike to give Eastern Illinois a 7-6 advantage. Late in the quarter, Ademola Adeniji bounced off an Eastern Kentucky tackle attempt at the line of scrimmage and scampered 73 yards to the end zone to make the score, 14-9.

Eastern Kentucky finally scored a touchdown before halftime thanks to its two-minute offense. Holland directed the offense to perfection, completing 7-of-8 passes on the drive. With 40 seconds left in the half, Holland scrambled out of the pocket and found senior Quinton Williams at the back of the end zone for a 20-yard touchdown strike. The Colonels failed on the two-point conversion attempt, but regained the lead at 15-14.

Eastern next returns home to host Southeast Missouri on Saturday, Oct. 13, as part of Hall of Fame Weekend. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

--Eastern Illinois had 176 offensive yards in the first half, 130 of which were covered in three plays.

--The Colonels held EIU to 0-of-5 on third-down conversions in the first half and 5-of-14 (35.7 percent) overall. The Panthers were converting a league-best 46.5 percent of third-down attempts coming into the contest.

--Senior wide receiver Quinton Williams finished with a career-best seven receptions for 85 yards.

--Eastern Kentucky held the edge in time of possession for the first time this year, holding the ball for 33:38 compared to 26:22 for Eastern Illinois.

--For the third time this year, EKU did not commit a turnover. The Colonels are +12 in turnover margin this year.