By Langdon Barnes
The Colonels will try to put together another win streak with a win this weekend in Clarksville, Tenn. at 7 p.m. against Austin Peay.Both teams are coming off wins in their last games.The Colonels (4-2, 4-1 OVC) had a solid Homecoming victory over UT Martin while the Governors of Austin Peay (2-4, 1-2 OVC) beat Southeast Missouri State 24-14 two weeks ago before their bye this past week.
Austin Peay has already matched its win total from last year’s 2-9 record. Of their OVC losses last season, six were by three points, including a 10-13 loss to Eastern in overtime.
In last year’s overtime, the Governors received the ball first.
The Colonel defense forced a three-and-out to make the Governors kick a field goal. Returning Junior Isaac Zikolkowski, who forced overtime with one second left in regulation with a field goal, missed the 36-yard field goal in overtime.
That eventually set up Eastern with a 27-yard chip shot for the win.
The Colonels not only look to start another win streak this season, but also to keep their OVC contention alive with a victory over Austin Peay. Eastern has won 22 straight games, with an overall record of 38-3 all time against the Governors.
“It’s pretty important that we go ahead and start a winning streak,” senior receiver Garnett Phelps said. “Beating Austin Peay this week will put us in a good standing point to win the conference.”
The Governors have a weapon in sophomore running back Ryan White.White is the leading rusher in the OVC with 698 yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry and two touchdowns.White has broken the 200-yard mark in two games so far this season, both of Austin Peay’s only wins.He ran for 210 yards in a win against Newberry College and 228 yards and a touchdown in their last game, a performance in which he was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Week.
The Colonels’ best weapon may be red-shirt freshman T.J. Pryor, who is coming into his own as a quarterback for the Colonels.Pryor has thrown for 1,169 yards and four touchdowns and run for two more this season.
One of his favorite targets has been Phelps, who has 28 catches, two touchdowns and an OVC-best 460 yards thus far.
“It’s very valuable that we have a run game and passing game that are both effective,” Phelps said.”We can stretch the field with our speed and also have the ability to hit a bunch of other good routes as well. I feel like we have a good compliment to our passing game with our great backfield.”
The Colonel defense is giving up 19.2 points a game this season. They have been making big plays all season by picking off 12 passes, with six of those coming from sophomore Jeremy Caldwell.
Eastern’s offense is averaging 357.3 yards and 22.8 points per game compared to 306.7 yards and 21.5 points of Austin Peay.
Eastern has three OVC games remaining including Austin Peay.
As of now, only Jacksonville State has a better winning percentage in the OVC than Eastern. The Colonels still have four more weeks until they face State and the players are taking it one game at a time.
“We feel that every game is important on our schedule no matter who it is,” Pryor said. “We just know we have to play our best game each week to win because anyone can beat us.