EKU's second-half comeback falls short against Tennessee State

RICHMOND, Ky. (WKYT) - The Eastern Kentucky football team opened the second half by scoring 21 unanswered points to take the lead early in the fourth quarter against visiting Tennessee State; however, the Tigers pulled away late for a 45-21 win on Saturday evening at Roy Kidd Stadium.

TSU used a 49-yard field goal by Lane Clark and touchdown catches by Patrick Smith and Steven Newbold to capture a 17-0 lead at halftime.

EKU, however, exploded out of the locker room. On the Colonels’ first possession of the second half, senior quarterback Tim Boyle converted a 3rd-and-11 with a 36-yard pass to senior wide receiver Ryan Markush. TSU was whistled for pass interference on the next play, putting the ball at the TSU seven-yard line. Two plays later, on 3rd-and-goal, Boyle took it himself for a one-yard touchdown run to make it 17-7 with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter.

Late in the third quarter, the Colonels put together another touchdown drive. On 2nd-and-8, Boyle connected with junior tight end Dan Paul for a 22-yard pick-up to the TSU 24. Two plays later, Paul struck again, this time converting a critical 3rd-and-4 with an eight-yard grab to the TSU 10. Boyle then found Markush for a 10-yard score in the corner of the end zone to make it 17-14 with just over a minute to play in the third quarter.

The EKU defense followed up the touchdown by forcing a quick three-and-out, and on the final play of the third quarter, Boyle hit freshman receiver Jaelin Carter for 36 yards to the TSU three-yard line. On 3rd-and-goal, Boyle and Markush hooked up for the second straight time, this time from six yards out, to give the Colonels a 21-17 lead with 13:27 left in the game.

Tennessee State responded with a 13-play, 88-yard drive and retook the lead when quarterback Michael Hughes punched it in from one yard out to make it 24-21 with 6:53 on the clock.

On the first play of EKU’s ensuing possession, Vincent Sellers intercepted Boyle and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown to make it 31-21 in favor of the Tigers.

With 3:47 remaining, Sellers picked Boyle again and took it to the house from 44 yards out. The Tigers capped the game with a third pick-six by Terrell Bonds to make it 45-21.

Boyle finished with 212 yards and two touchdowns through the air, while Paul went for 76 yards on eight catches and Markush finished with 74 yards and two touchdown grabs.

Sophomore tailback Daryl McCleskey led EKU on the ground, racking up 73 yards on 11 carries.

EKU outgained TSU by over 70 yards on the day; however, the Tigers won the takeaway battle, 4-1.

The Colonels return to action on Saturday, Oct. 14, when they travel to Alabama to square off against No. 4 Jacksonville State. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET.

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