It was deja vu for the Eastern Kentucky University football team as they lost on homecoming for the third time in four years and for the past two seasons.
It was a game of momentum swings and the University of Tennessee at Martin Skyhawks came out on top by a final of 38-28 on Saturday.
Redshirt freshman quarterback, Parker McKinney, suited up for his second start and kept his team in contention.
McKinney threw for 313 yards on 19-40 attempts. The Tennessee native finished with two touchdowns through the air and one rushing score. The two passing touchdowns against the Skyhawks makes it five for the season for McKinney. With his performance on Saturday, McKinney’s passing yardage for the season increases to 631-yards.
EKU started the game strong as McKinney connected with Jaelin Carter for the 27-yard touchdown pass. That pass came 1:08 into the OVC matchup.
“It was great. I thought we came out and started fast. We scored on our first drive in a couple plays and the touchdowns were big for us, but we just have to be better at finishing drives,” McKinney said.
Turnovers hurt the Colonels as McKinney threw an interception in the fourth quarter that sealed the game for the Skyhawks. McKinney was also sacked four times which has been a concern for the EKU coaching staff all season.
“We took too many sacks,” head coach Mark Elder said. EKU has now allowed their quarterback to be sacked 20 times in the last six games.
“I thought this was not his best game in regards of getting rid of the football,” Elder said about McKinney’s performance. “He did some good things for sure. I thought he had some good throws, but he also had some errant throws too. Ball security was an issue obviously... We cannot be putting the ball in jeopardy.”
EKU overcame a 10-point deficit in the third quarter to recapture the lead, but two Skyhawk touchdowns closed the door.
The Skyhawks held running backs, Daryl McCleskey and Alonzo Booth, in check and only allowed the duo to run for a combined 106 yards.
“I thought that they did a good job in limiting our run game,” Elder said. “I thought that we answered and ended up throwing the ball fairly well. Obviously not well enough to win the game. Defensively, they gave us some fits. We had a hard time stopping the run.”
Wide receiver, Keyion Dixon, had a solid performance with a team-leading 97 receiving yards on five catches.
On the defensive end, Corey Glass led all players in the game with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss.
The Colonels fall to 1-1 in the OVC and 3-3 overall this season.
EKU is now halfway through the season and McKinney and sophomore defensive back, Daulson Fitzpatrick, wants to learn from the homecoming loss and prepare for the games ahead.
“Halfway through the season I feel like after a loss we’re all disappointed and a few games we should have won we let slip away from us. Going forward we’re just going to learn from that and take it one game at a time,” McKinney said.
“Since it’s a bye week we will have a chance to get extra practice to prepare for Murray and use these days to fix all the mistakes and move forward,” Fitzpatrick said.
The Colonels will have a bye week and then return to action on
Oct. 19 at Murray State.