Eastern Kentucky tops Morehead State 24-17

RICHMOND, Ky. -- The Eastern Kentucky football team ran 86 plays for 440 yards and 29 first downs en route to a 24-17 win over Morehead State in front of 11,600 on Saturday evening at Kidd Stadium.

The Colonels, who suffered a loss to Big Ten Conference foe Purdue a week ago, improve to 1-1 on the season. The Eagles, who opened 2012 with a victory over Southern Virginia, slip to 1-1 overall.

“The goal is to win games, but I’m proud of how our guys played tonight,” Head Coach Matt Ballard said. “I’ve always said games are played on the field, not on paper. Eastern Kentucky has 63 scholarships and we have none, but you would not have known that with the way we played.”

EKU ran 31 more plays than MSU, which led to +127 in yards and +23:32 in time of possession. The Colonels, who offer scholarships and play football in the Ohio Valley Conference, rushed 63 times for 282 yards and accumulated 158 yards via the aerial attack on 23 attempts.

Sophomore linebacker Dillion Blackburn finished just one tackle shy of the Morehead State record. He collected 18 stops, including 15 in the first half, while sophomore linebacker Jordan Hendrix added 17 and junior defensive back John Coleman contributed 11.

“We had a lot of mismatches on the field tonight, but our guys played with their hearts,” Ballard said. “Dillion had a terrific game and there were several other defensive guys who made plays for us.”

Senior quarterback Zach Lewis paced the Eagle offense by completing 28-of-42 attempts for 294 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Donte Sawyer was MSU’s top receiver with nine catches for 110 yards, while classmate Kevin Thomas pulled in a pair of touchdown receptions.

Senior running back Matt Denham paced the Colonels with 166 yards and one touchdown on 34 carries, while senior quarterback T.J. Pryor completed 13-of-22 tosses for 148 yards and one score.

“Our fans were outstanding,” Ballard added. “They were loud and into the game tonight. We can’t thank those people enough for making the trip over. That’s Eagle pride for sure.”

Morehead State returns to Jayne Stadium on Saturday when it hosts St. Francis (Pa.) at 1 p.m. ET.

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