CONWAY, S.C. – The Eastern Kentucky University football team wrapped up its non-conference schedule with a convincing 35-17 victory over host Coastal Carolina Saturday night. This was the first ever meeting between the OVC and Big South teams.
Senior running back Matt Denham tallied two touchdowns, including his first collegiate scoring catch. Denham reached 100 yards rushing (121) for the second straight game. Meanwhile, senior quarterback T.J. Pryor ran for a score and found fellow senior Tyrone Goard for a 77-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter.
Eastern never trailed and jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its opening drive. Sophomore Jared McClain, who played the first three series at quarterback, found Denham behind the defense for a 32-yard touchdown pass three minutes into the contest.
After Coastal Carolina responded with a touchdown drive on its first possession, EKU took the lead for good in the second quarter. The Colonels moved 76 yards methodically down the field and capped the drive with a Pryor one-yard sneak on 4th-and-goal.
The Chanticleers tried a bit of trickery later in the quarter, but to no avail. Lining up for a 44-yard field goal attempt, Coastal Carolina instead attempted a pass which came up inches shy of the first down. Eastern Kentucky capitalized two plays later when Pryor hit Goard for the 77-yard touchdown strike to stretch the lead to 21-7.
In the third quarter, Coastal slashed the lead to 21-14 thanks to a Matt Hazel five-yard touchdown catch on 3rd-and-goal.
However, the Colonels immediately struck back with another grueling drive, this time 13 plays for 73 yards. Pryor had a key third down run for 21 yards to move the ball into the red zone. Denham followed with a six-yard touchdown run to put Eastern back up by two touchdowns.
Eastern Kentucky then put the game away midway through the fourth quarter when junior Deshaun Sands found pay dirt with a one-yard run. The Colonel defense was particularly stout in the final period, coming away with a fumble recovery and forcing a turnover on downs.
Sophomore defensive back Brandon Stanley led the EKU defense with nine tackles and one pass-break up. Senior defensive back Justin Bell added five stops, two forced fumbles and three pass break-ups. Senior defensive back Brooklyn Fox stopped a Coastal first quarter drive with an interception at the EKU 18-yard line.
Eastern Kentucky returns home to open conference action next Saturday, Sept. 22 against Jacksonville State. The Family Weekend game is slated to begin at 6 p.m.