EKU upset bid falls just short at Indiana, 19-13

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Eastern Kentucky University quarterback T.J. Pryor’s desperation pass to Orlandus Harris fell incomplete in the end zone as time expired, allowing host Indiana to escape with a 19-13 victory Thursday night at Memorial Stadium. This was the first ever meeting between the two schools.

The Colonels trailed 19-10 at the half before rallying with two chances to win late in the contest. On EKU’s second possession of the second half, back-to-back big plays from Pryor set up a Colonel field goal to make the score, 19-13. First, Pryor scampered 36 yards on third down along the sidelines to extend the drive. The very next play, Pryor hit junior Shannon Davis for a 29-yard completion to put EKU in field goal range.

Eastern Kentucky held Indiana without a first down in the third quarter and proceeded to move into scoring range again early in the fourth. Two key pass plays from junior quarterback Cody Watts to fellow junior Evan Cromer put EKU inside IU’s 20-yard line. The Colonels eventually reached the five-yard line, but proceeded to fumble the ball on 2nd-and-goal.

Eastern’s defense held Indiana without a point two more times before giving the offense one more chance to win the game with 26 seconds to go. Pryor directed this drive and used two 20-yard pass plays to Cromer to move the ball to Indiana’s 40-yard line with eight seconds left. On the final play of regulation, Pryor lofted the ball to the left corner of the end zone, but Harris was unable to come down with the pigskin.

Indiana moved up and down the field in the first half, tallying 262 offensive yards, to take the nine-point lead into the locker rooms. EKU’s defense turned the tide in the second half, holding the Hoosiers to only 137 yards.

Two big plays set up Eastern’s points in the first half. Watts found senior wide receiver Garnett Phelps for a 61-yard score midway through the first quarter to cut Indiana’s lead to 9-7. Right before intermission, sophomore Jeremy Caldwell returned an IU punt 40 yards to the Hoosier 14-yard line. The Colonels couldn’t convert the field position into a touchdown, but Logan O’Connor booted a 23-yard field goal to make the score, 19-10, at the half.

Following the open weekend, Eastern Kentucky returns home on Saturday, Sept. 19 to open conference play against Tennessee Tech. Game time is set for 7 p.m.

--Cody Watts started the game at quarterback for EKU, but T.J. Pryor saw significant time at the position as well. The duo combined to go 17-of-26 for 278 yards and one touchdown.

--In the 2008 season opener at Cincinnati, Cody Watts caught a 61-yard touchdown pass. This year, Watts threw a 61-yard touchdown pass to Garnett Phelps.

--Wide receivers Evan Cromer and Garnett Phelps each finished with 100 yards receiving. Cromer recorded 124 yards on nine receptions while Phelps added 104 yards on four catches. Both numbers were career highs.

--Dating back to last year, the Colonels have now forced at least two turnovers in eight straight games.

--Defensive back Jeremy Caldwell intercepted two passes for the first time in his career.

--EKU is now 4-14 against NCAA FBS programs since 1978 when the Colonels joined the ranks of the NCAA FCS. EKU’s last win against an FBS school happened in 1985 thanks to a 45-21 victory at Louisville.

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