The number two nationally ranked EIU Panthers continued their run through conference play on Saturday, handing the Golden Eagles their fifth straight conference loss, 56 – 21, in Charleston, Ill.
“That’s the best team I’ve played,” head coach Watson Brown said. “They don’t have a weakness.”
The defense forced two fumbles during the game on Saturday to go along with an interception.
The first fumble was caused on the opening drive of the game by junior safety Austin Tallant. Tallant hit EIU quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo as he released a pass in the first quarter. The ball went flying backwards behind the line of scrimmage. Tech’s Jimmy Laughlin was the only player on the field who immediately reacted to the play as a fumble. Laughlin scooped the ball and returned it to the EIU 35-yard line.
Tech’s offense was unable to capitalize on the opportunity.
Tech dug themselves a 28 – 0 hole before putting any points on the board. Krys Cates caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman backup quarterback Jared Davis in the second quarter. The one play 15-yard drive was set up off of an interception by sophomore safety Patrick Prewitt.
The third turnover of the day was created by Tech linebacker and OVC leading tackler Tra’Darius Goff. Goff stuffed EIU’s runningback as he broke the line of scrimmage. Goff punched the ball out, causing a dog pile at the EIU 21-yard line. Prewitt was credited with the fumble recovery, giving the ball back to the Golden Eagles. This time the Tech offense turned the turnover into seven points. Davis hooked up with receiver Eric Belew for a seven yard touchdown.
Tech’s special teams struggled throughout the game on Saturday missing a field goal right before half and giving up two long punt returns for touchdowns.
Each of the past five teams Tech has played, at one time or another throughout the season, have been ranked in the top 25. The team’s final games of the year are against two of the bottom three teams in the league.
Tech will travel to South East Missouri Nov. 9 to take on the Redhawks.
Tech will reach their much needed bye week after the SEMO game. Tech has played 11 straight games this season. After the bye week, the Golden Eagles will host in-state rival Austin Peay.