RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s defense forced three turnovers and held Eastern Illinois to 81 yards rushing in a 20-7 Homecoming win Saturday afternoon at Roy Kidd Stadium. The Colonels have now won four straight to move to 4-1 in Ohio Valley Conference play and 5-3 overall.
Four Eastern Kentucky running backs combined for 108 yards led by C.J. Walker’s 44. Senior Allan Holland completed 18-of-29 passes for 193 yards. Holland moved to third on EKU’s all-time career passing yards list with 4,058 yards. Sophomore wide out Shannon Davis caught six passes for a game-high 76 yards.
Travorus Bess led the Panthers (3-5, 1-3 OVC) with 87 yards on the ground. Bodie Reeder went 15-of-24 through the air for 156 yards and one touchdown.
Eastern Illinois missed on a pair of prime scoring opportunities in the first half as EKU built a 17-0 halftime lead.
On the Panthers’ first possession of the game, the visitors drove to the EKU four-yard line. On 2nd-and-2, Bess was held to a 1-yard gain. On 3rd-and-1, Reeder’s pass to the end zone was dropped. On the next play, Tyler Wilke missed a 22-yard field goal.
The Colonels answered with a 17-play, 80-yard drive the chewed up 8:04 off the clock. Sophomore Aaron Bradley contributed 32 yards on the ground during the drive. Holland capped off the drive with a seven-yard touchdown run.
After Eastern Illinois was forced to punt, Eastern Kentucky manufactured another scoring drive. An 18-yard pass from Holland to senior Stephon Fuqua took the ball to the EIU two-yard line. Bradley polished off the 11-play, 79-yard drive with a two-yard touchdown run. Following the extra point, the Colonels had a 14-0 lead with 9:17 remaining in the first half.
The Panthers appeared ready to answer when they drove inside Eastern Kentucky territory on their next possession. However, on 3rd-and-1 from the EKU 25, Desmin Ward fumbled and the Colonels recovered.
On the second play of its next possession, Eastern Illinois fumbled again, this time after a 14-yard run to the EIU 32-yard line. Colonel cornerback Jeremy Caldwell recovered the first Panther fumble and forced the second one.
Eastern Kentucky converted the turnover into a Taylor Long 42-yard field goal with 32 seconds left in the first half and took a 17-0 lead into the locker room at the break.
The Panthers turned the ball over for the third time on their first possession of the second half. Reeder fumbled while being sacked for a seven-yard loss.
Eastern Illinois got on the board later in the third quarter. Bess and Chevon Walker picked up 18 and 13 yards on the ground, respectively, on back-to-back plays. Reeder connected with Alicus Nozinor from five yards out and the point-after cut the deficit to 17-7.
That would be as close as Eastern Illinois would get as Long tacked on a career-long 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to set the final score.
Eastern Illinois entered the game as the least penalized team in the conference and the OVC leader in turnover margin. However, the Panthers were flagged for 53 yards, compared to 41 for the Colonels, and lost the turnover battle, 3-0.
Eastern Kentucky’s win, coupled with a loss by Tennessee State, leaves three teams atop the OVC standings with one conference loss.
The Colonels will hit the road next weekend for the first time since the first weekend of October. Eastern will play at Southeast Missouri on Saturday at 2 p.m. (ET). The Redhawks handed Tennessee State its first conference loss of the season earlier in the day.
--Eastern Illinois’ seven points is the fewest allowed by Eastern Kentucky this season.
--Eastern Kentucky has now forced at least three turnovers in five of the last six games.
--Eastern Kentucky has held its last three opponents to less than 100 yards rushing.
--With 193 passing yards, senior Allan Holland moved to third on EKU’s all-time career passing yards list with 4,058, passing Ernie House (1974-78).
--After Eastern scored its second touchdown, senior Taylor Long converted his second PAT of the game, which tied Dale Dawson’s (1983-86) school record of 126 career PATs.
--Taylor Long’s 50-yard field goal in the fourth quarter broke his previous career-best of 46 yards.
--Taylor Long has now made a field goal in seven straight games. After his second quarter 42-yard field goal, Taylor Long now needs five field goals to tie Dale Dawson’s school record of 49 career field goals made.
--Allan Holland’s first quarter rushing touchdown was his third of the season.
--Aaron Bradley’s second quarter rushing touchdown was his team-leading fourth of the season.