EIU Remains Winless w/Loss to Jacksonville State


Published on October 14 2019 11:11 am
Last Updated on October 14 2019 11:11 am

Eastern Illinois young football team played one of its most complete games of the season on a cold and windy Saturday afternoon at O’Brien Field as the Panthers came up just short against No. 17 Jacksonville State. JSU won 28-20.

EIU fell to 0-7 on the season, 0-3 in the OVC. JSU improved to 5-2 overall, 2-1 in the OVC.

JSU took the opening kickoff and marched the length of the field with quarterback Zerrick Cooper quickly completing three passes to bring the Gamecocks inside the EIU 30 yard line. The Panthers would then force two incomplete passes and make a stop on the run forcing JSU into a field goal attempt, which was missed wide right on a 40-yard attempt.

Eastern Illinois used that momentum and put together its own drive down the field as Harry Woodbery had five completions on the drive. The final one was to Isaiah Hill for a 25-yard touchdown putting the Panthers on top 7-0. It was one of two touchdowns on the day for Hill as he added a rushing touchdown to open the fourth quarter.

JSU responded with three first half touchdowns to lead 21-7 at the half. Cooper hit Josh Pearson and KJ Stepherson for touchdown passes while Michael Matthews added a 3-yard touchdown run with 1:52 left in the half. Cooper would throw three touchdowns on the day as he was 23-of-34 for 237 yards.

The Panthers bounced back late in the third quarter with Jaelin Benefield scoring on a 3-yard run with just under four minutes left in the third quarter followed by Hill’s touchdown on the opening play of the fourth quarter. EIU would miss the extra point to trail 21-20.

JSU pushed the lead to eight points on the next drive with Cooper finding Pearson for a 39 yard pass with 12:56 left in the game. 

EIU would get four more offensive chances to try to drive and tie the game. The final drive ended on an interception by Zack Woodard at the EIU 41 yard line, the third interception of the day for the Gamecocks defense. One of them was in the end zone to end the third EIU drive of the game, the other was at the end of the first half. 

Woodbery passed for 208 yards on the day going 19-of-38. James Sheehan was the top Panthers target with seven catches for 65 yards. Chris Walker rushed for a team-high 45 yards. The Panthers started six freshmen on the offensive side of the ball on Saturday.

Dytarious Johnson led the EIU defense with 12 tackles including two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Corneliuss Page had an interception for EIU to go with three tackles and two pass break-ups.

Jalen Chose and Woodard led JSU defense. Traco Williams had both first half interceptions.