The EKU Colonels opened the season against their cross-state rival Western Kentucky University Hilltoppers and held their own against a tough FBS opponent.
Eastern started the game slowly, going scoreless in the first half and giving up a Western 2-yard touchdown run to D’Andre Ferby, a Lucky Jackson 66-yard touchdown pass from Mike White, and a Ryan Nuss 44-yard field goal. However, the Colonels went into the locker room for halftime only down 17-0, and that is where the offensive drought stopped.
The Colonels came out of the halftime break with a quick score on a 6 yd. Tim Boyle touchdown pass to Ryan Markush early in the third quarter. WKU’s Ferby followed with a 5-yard touchdown run, but EKU struck back with another Boyle touchdown pass to Markush to close out the scoring in the third quarter and bring EKU to within 10 points (24-14) at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
After a Hilltopper 1-yard touchdown run from Marquez Trigg and a 30-yard EKU field goal from Lucas Williams, the game clock hit double 0’s with a final score of WKU 31 – EKU 17.
Tim Boyle finished his first game as a Colonel with an impressive 26 completions out of 44 attempts that culminated in 320 total passing yards and 2 touchdowns with 0 interceptions.
L.J. Scott and Jason Lewis led the rushing attack for the Colonels. Scott had 8 carries for 25 yards and Lewis had 5 carries for 16 yards.
Markush had a huge night with 7 receptions for 107 yards and 2 touchdowns. While, Neiko Creamer added 6 catches for 79 yards and Dan Paul and Scott caught 5 passes for 47 and 35 yards respectively.
On the defensive side of the ball, the tackles where spread evenly among Damon Lowe, Jeff Canady, and Eric Reed who led the team with 6 tackles a piece. But the defensive line controlled most of the game with Taquan Evans and Luder Jean Louis both having 1.5 sacks, and Lowe, Buck Solomon, Cornelius Floyd, Gavin Bryant, Brentton Ayinde Ervin, and Dillon Denault all having tackles for loss.
On special teams, Scott returned 2 kicks for a total of 47 yards and Alonzo Booth returned 1 kick for 26 yards. Keith Wrzuszczak had 4 punts for 162 total yards with a 46 yarder as his longest. Williams finished the game with a 30-yard made field goal and 2/2 on extra points.
Unfortunately, Eastern came up short against a good FBS school, but the tough loss left Head Coach Mark Elder with a positive outlook. Elder said postgame, “I am proud of the effort. I am proud of the resolve. I’m proud of the character our team showed.”
Elder continued, “I will say this, there’s no morale victories, but I do feel confident we are going to be a good football team.”
The Colonels will carry that confidence into their next matchup against a second consecutive FBS opponent in the University of Kentucky Wildcats. The game will kickoff at Noon on Saturday, September 9th. The game will be broadcast live on the SEC Network with live audio also streaming on the ekusports.com website.