The Eastern Kentucky University football team stayed alive in the race for a spot in the NCAA FCS playoffs with a convincing 31-7 victory over host Southeast Missouri Saturday afternoon at Houck Stadium.
With the win, No. 23 Eastern Kentucky improves to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Southeast Missouri falls to 3-6 and 2-4.
The Colonel defense kept SEMO off the board until the Redhawks’ final drive of the game. Eastern forced three Southeast Missouri turnovers and twice held the Redhawks on fourth down tries. Senior defensive back Brooklyn Fox led EKU with his team-leading sixth interception while also recovering a fumble.
Eastern Kentucky got on the board on its first possession following Fox’s interception which he returned to the SEMO eight-yard line. Senior running back Matt Denham converted a 4th-and-goal from the one-yard line to put the Colonels on top, 7-0.
In the second quarter, a big pass play from sophomore quarterback Jared McClain to senior Tyrone Goard moved the ball to the Redhawk 24-yard line. Two plays later, junior running back Deshaun Sands burst through the left side of the line for a 20-yard score to push the lead to 17-0 at halftime.
McClain engineered two scoring drives in the third quarter to make the score 31-0. He scored on a three-yard boot-leg to cap a nine-play, 60-yard drive and then scrambled out of pressure for another three-yard score at the end of the quarter.
For the game, McClain finished 8-of-11 passing for 138 yards while adding 24 rushing yards and two scores. Meanwhile, Denham piled up 24 carries for 99 yards and a touchdown. Sands chipped in with 48 yards rushing.
Southeast Missouri running back Levi Terrell, who had rushed for at least 100 yards in five straight games, was held to a season-low 57 yards on the ground.
Eastern Kentucky will celebrate Senior Day next weekend in the regular season finale when the Colonels host Murray State. Kick-off on Saturday, Nov. 10 is set for 1 p.m.
--Eastern Kentucky was +3 in turnover margin today and now stands at +17 for the season. The Colonels scored 10 points off the three SEMO turnovers.
--Kicker Zack Burgy-VanHoose booted a team season-long 45-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
--Matt Denham reached 3,000 yards rushing for his career with a four-yard carry late in the third quarter. He is just the 10th Colonel ever to reach that milestone.
--For the ninth consecutive game, EKU possessed the ball for more than 32 minutes. The Colonels held the ball for 32:54 in the win over Southeast Missouri