Tech football fell to 0-4 for the season after losing to the Eastern Illinois Panthers 28-14. The loss was the first loss of the year in Ohio Valley Conference play and the fourth consecutive loss of the season overall.
The game turned for Tech midway through the fourth quarter. Trailing 21-14 with 8:22 to play, Tech had the ball on the Panthers’ five yard-line, looking to tie the score. It was second and goal and Golden Eagle quarterback Drew Martin ran for a five yard loss, fumbled the football, which was picked up by Eastern Illinois defender Eilln Bryce Dewberry and returned 90 yards for the Panthers touchdown. The deficit proved to be too much for the Golden Eagles.
“We played well today, but we did give up some points that we shouldn’t have, but overall we played well,” Tech Head Coach Dewayne Alexander said.
Offensively, Tech had their best performance of the season. Martin was 26 of 38 for 315 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Tech wide receiver Quinton Cross led the team in receiving yards with 140, and opened the scoring in the first quarter with a 62 yard touchdown reception.
Justin Oden and Metruis Fleming each had four receptions for a combined 96 yards. Problems running the ball this season continued in this contest. The Golden Eagles had a combined 36 rushes for 64 yards, while averaging only 1.8 yards per carry.
Turnovers were another problem for Tech in this game. Martin, David Gist and Christian Watson combined for a total of six fumbles while losing three to the Panthers.
Defensively, Tech played one of their better performances of the season. Defensive back Josh Reliford had 11 tackles, and continues to lead the Ohio Valley Conference in total tackles with 38 on the season. Jamaal Singleton picked off Eastern Illinois quarterback Otto Kuhns for Tech’s only interception of the game.
“We do have some things to work on with passing and defense, but overall our guys really showed up for this game,”Alexander said.
The loss to Eastern Illinois comes after a tough road loss to the Tennessee Volunteers on September 18. The Volunteers won 56-0 and offensively out gained Tech 417 yards to 179.
While the season hasn’t had the start Tech had hoped for, there is still optimism in the locker room as the season gets closer to the halfway mark.
“We had the best locker room energy we have had this season today,” Alexander said.
On Saturday, October 2, Tech will face the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks at home in Tucker stadium. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. The Redhawks enter the game with an overall record of 1-3 and 1-0 in Ohio Valley Conference play. They are coming into the game off a home win versus Tennessee State 47-14.
“We are ready for this season,” Alexander said. “The guys on this team have worked really hard this week in practice and continue to impress me each week on the field.”
Tech will be on the road in Durham North Carolina on October 9 against the North Carolina Central Eagles. Currently, North Carolina Central is 2-2, with wins against Alcorn State and Wisconsin-Salem, and losses against Marshall and North Carolina A&T.