The Eastern Kentucky University Colonels football team was looking to improve their 1-5 (1-3 OVC) record against the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks (3-3 (1-2 OVC)) at home on Saturday, Oct. 21. The Colonels pulled the win out in front of their homecoming crowd with a 31-21 win.
Eastern came into the afternoon with a 12-5 record in Homecoming games since 2000.
Eastern opened the scoring with an early three-point field goal by Lucas Williams and finished the first quarter ahead 3-0.
UT-Martin scored their first points of the game in the second quarter on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Dresser Winn to Jaylon Moore and took the lead from the Colonels, 7-3.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Skyhawks recovered a 27-yard pooch kick and retained possession of the ball on Eastern’s 38-yard line.
UT-Martin failed to capitalize on their field position after Winn threw an interception on the first play of the drive to Eastern’s Ben Bascom who returned the pick 22 yards. The interception was the first of Bascom’s career.
Eastern went into the locker room at halftime down 7-3.
The Colonels started the second half on defense, but the Skyhawks first offensive possession did not last long after Winn was stripped of the ball. Eastern’s Kobie Grace recovered the fumble and gave the Colonel offense the ball on the UTM 43.
Later in the third quarter, the Colonels forced another Winn fumble, but this time it was recovered by Connor Foos on the UTM 5-yard line.
On the next play from scrimmage, Eastern’s Jason Lewis ran the ball into the end zone for the Colonels first touchdown of the game which gave them the lead 10-7.
The Colonel lead was short lived though, after the ensuing Lucas Williams kickoff was returned 95 yards for a touchdown by UT-Martin’s Peyton Logan which gave the Skyhawks the lead 14-10.
But Eastern marched down the field after the touchdown return, and Ethan Thomas ran in the Colonel’s second touchdown of the game from ten yards out giving EKU the lead once again at 17-14.
On the ensuing kickoff, Eastern’s Andrew Dziuk recovered the Williams kick-off on UT-Martin’s 29 yard line and Eastern’s Thomas capitalized on the great field position by punching in another rushing touchdown, his second of the game, from six yards out, which gave the Colonels a ten point lead at 24-14.
Eastern’s Darryl McCleskey ran in another touchdown for the Colonels to start the fourth quarter from eight yards out and gave EKU a commanding 31-14 lead.
UT-Martin scored a touchdown near the end of the game, but after a failed onside kick, the Colonels ran the rest of the time off the clock, ultimately winning the game by a score of 31-21.
Offensively, Tim Boyle led the Colonels passing attack with nine completions on 19 attempts for a total of 101 yards. Dan Paul finished with four catches for 33 yards and Nieko Creamer added one reception for a career long 33-yards.
But Eastern’s rushing attack ruled the day, McCleskey finished with 137 yards on 22 attempts and a touchdown, Thomas added 48 yards on 10 attempts with two touchdowns, and Lewis finished with 18 yards on 12 attempts and a touchdown.
Defensively, Jeff Canady led EKU with six tackles. Corey Glass and Foos added five tackles each while Glass added a forced fumble and Foos added a fumble recovery.
Keith Wrzuszczak tallied nine punts on the afternoon one of which was a school record 84-yard bomb.
Colonel Head Coach Mark Elder said after the big win, “I’m really, really proud of this team. We’ve faced a ton of adversity in the games up to this point. We faced adversity in this game and it was great to see our guys come from behind, believe in each other, play hard, and it translated into a victory. I couldn’t be more proud of these guys.”
Grace said, “We wanted that win, really, for Elder. So many people have said things they have no clue about that man. He has been nothing but a great coach. We wanted to make sure we prove his theory is correct.”
The Colonels travel west to Murray, Kentucky, next Saturday, Oct. 28, to face off against the Murray State Racers at 4 p.m. Follow the Eastern Progress sports on Twitter for updates.