RICHMOND, Ky. – Defense and special teams keyed the Eastern Kentucky University football team's 44-0 rout of No. 23 Tennessee State Saturday afternoon at Roy Kidd Stadium.
Eastern Kentucky's defense forced four Tennessee State turnovers which led to 17 points. The Colonels held the Tigers to season lows in both passing yards (101) and total yards (172). This game also marked EKU's first shutout since defeating these same Tigers on Nov. 19, 2005 by a count of 49-0.
The Colonels (6-3, 4-1 OVC) built a 34-0 halftime lead thanks to three Tiger fumbles that led to 14 points, a 30-yard punt return to the TSU seven yard line that set up a touchdown and a defense that limited the visitors to 31 yards of offense on their first seven possessions.
Tennessee State (7-3, 4-2 OVC) crossed midfield only once in the first half, a five-yard run to the EKU 46-yard line that ended with a fumble recovered by the Colonels.
Junior Stanley Absanon set up Eastern's first score with a 30-yard punt return. TSU punted from its own five and the Colonels took over at the seven yard line. After a few penalties forced a 3rd-and-goal at the 16-yard line, junior quarterback Jared McClain found a diving Devin Borders over the middle for a touchdown with 6:58 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers' second fumble of the first quarter came at their own six yard line. Junior defensive back Paul Ritter scooped it up at the seven and went in untouched.
The Colonels put together their first extended drive at the end of the first and beginning of the second quarter to go up 21-0. On 3rd-and-10 from the 26-yard line, McClain hooked up with Borders again, this time down the right sideline, to cap a seven-play, 74-yard drive that chewed up 3:11. McClain moved the ball early in the drive with a 20-yard run up the middle.
Eastern Kentucky added two more touchdowns before the end of the half. McClain tossed a one-yard scoring pass to senior tight Ike Ariguzo and redshirt freshman running back JJ Jude scored from a yard out with 27 seconds remaining before the break.
EKU out-gained Tennessee State in the first half of play, 205-52
The Colonels took their opening drive of the second half and marched 75 yards to pay dirt in seven plays. Redshirt freshman Jared Sanders finished it off with a three-yard touchdown run. The ensuing point-after made it 41-0. Junior kicker Andrew Lloyd rounded out the scoring with a 25-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
McClain finished 8-for-14 passing for 129 yards. The junior tossed a career-best three touchdown passes and also led EKU with 73 yards on the ground.
TSU's running back Tim Broughton was held to a season-low 38 rushing yards on 17 carries.
The Colonels will continue their push to stay alive in the FCS playoff hunt with a road game at Jacksonville State next Saturday, Nov. 9. Game time is set for 4 p.m. ET.