After nine weeks of the 2019 college football season many of the conference races are beginning to become clearer. The Ohio Valley Conference simply is setting itself up for a dramatic finish over the final four weeks of the regular season.
Southeast Missouri State put itself in nice position for a potential conference championship and a berth in the FCS playoffs with a 17-10 win over conference leader UT Martin on Saturday in Cape Girardeau. It was the 11th consecutive victory at home for the Redhawks, the longest current streak in the OVC.
The Skyhawks remain atop the standings despite the loss with a 4-1 league mark, one-half game ahead of SEMO, which is 3-1 in conference action. Austin Peay and Eastern Kentucky are tied with the Redhawks after wins of their own on Saturday.
Murray State, Tennessee Tech and Eastern Illinois all lost their contests against the upper echelon of the league. Tennessee State was idle on Saturday.
Marquee: SEMO Knocks Off UT Martin 17-10
Mother Nature did her part in making certain the game that was supposed to be in the Ohio Valley Conference lived up to all the pregame hype. And then some as Southeast Missouri put pressure on UT Martin in the hunt for the OVC championship with a 17-10 win over previous league leader UT Martin on a cold and rainy day in the Show-Me State.
Linebacker Omardrick Douglas, who also blocked a field goal attempt earlier in the game, picked off a pass and returned it 32 yards with 5:32 left in the game to lift SEMO to the victory. It was the first career interception for Douglas.
Backup quarterback Joe Pyle broke loose for a 61-yard scoring jaunt early in the third quarter to tie the game at 10-10 advantage following successful conversion kick by Kendrick Tiller.
Douglas and Pyle were both honored as the OVC defensive and offensive player of the week, respectively, as announced by the conference office on Sunday afternoon.
It was the defense that helped SEMO get on the board. Daterraion Richardson recovered a fumble by Bachus and Tiller connected on a 29-yard field goal a short time later to give the Redhawks the early 3-0 advantage with 2:45 remaining in the opening period of play.
Martin answered quickly by moving 75 yards in five plays to take the lead on a 28-yard pass from Bachus to Terry Williams just before the end of the first quarter. UT Martin added a 47-yard field goal from Ryan Courtright for a 10-3 halftime lead.
After Douglas’ go-ahead play the Skyhawks had to more opportunities to tie close the deficit. They were stopped on both occasions. A Bachus pass attempt fell short on fourth day from the SEMO 19-yard line and another pass with just two seconds left in the game was intercepted by Bydarrius Knighten in the end zone to preserve the SEMO triumph.
The steady rain that fell throughout the game hampered both offenses. SEMO tallied just 14 yards rushing in the first half and the two teams combined for just nine yards on the ground in the opening period of play.
SEMO’s defense shut out the Skyhawks in the second half and forced a season-high five turnovers, including three interceptions, in the game. The Redhawks have combined for nine takeaways in the last two games.
SEMO accumulated just 263 yards of offense on the day, most of those coming through the air. Starting QB Daniel Santacaterina threw for 127 yards in the first half. He completed nine passes on 21 attempts before being replaced in the second half by Pyle, who completed two passes for 51 yards in the second half.
Aaron Alston tallied a career-high 101 yards on six catches in the game for SEMO. Kristian Wilkerson, one of the top receivers in the nation, was limited to just two catches for 36 yards for the Redhawks.
UT Martin managed to outgain the hosts in the game by racking up 369 yards of total offense. QB John Bachus completed 14-of-34 passes for 284 yards and one touchdown in the game. Bachus found Terry Williams for a 29-yard scoring pass UT Martin running back Peyton Logan was contained throughout the game and managed just 70 yards on 20 carries and saw his streak of 100-yard rushing games come to an end at four games.
Austin Peay Starts Strong, Rolls Past Golden Eagles
JaVaughn Craig threw for two touchdowns in the first quarter and ran for another to spark Austin Peay to a resounding 58-21 triumph over Tennessee Tech on Saturday in Cookeville, Tenn.
The win allows the Governors to remain in the hunt for the OVC championship and a potential spot in the FCS playoffs. Tech dropped to 1-3 in the league on 4-4 on the season with the loss.
Craig finished the day with 291 yards through the air after completing 16-of-23 passes and five touchdowns. He also added a team-high 84 rushing yards. DeAngelo Wilson paced the Govs with seven catches for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He caught scoring passes of 46 and 30 yards in the first period that saw him compile 142 of his 161 yards in the game.
The Golden Eagles grabbed a quick 7-0 lead in the opening moments of the game with Bailey Fisher connected with Metrius Fleming from 10 yards out to put Tech in front just 1:37 into the game. Fisher finished with 202 yards through the air on 23-of-30 passing and three touchdowns. John Jones and Mitchell McClurg also added touchdowns receptions to go along with Fleming in the game.
Hayworth Kicks Colonels to Victory
Samuel Hayworth kicked four field goals, all in the second half, and added three successful conversion kicks to help Eastern Kentucky to a 33-6 win over Eastern Illinois on Saturday in Charleston, Ill. The win was the second straight for EKU and improved the Colonels to 3-1 in the conference and 5-3 on the season.
Hayworth, a redshirt senior, connected on field goals from 35, 28, 25, and 23 yards to do his part in the victory and was selected as the OVS’s specialist of the week for his performance against the Panthers. His 15 points in the game was one short of tying the school record of 16 points held by Jamie Lovett since 1983 against Youngstown State.
The EKU defense stepped up in sloppy field conditions to limit the Panthers to just 89 yards of total offense in the game. Eastern Illinois totaled just 40 yards on the ground and 49 through the air on the day. The offense, which managed 69 yards on a late touchdown drive, generated just eight first downs and averaged a paltry 1.5 yards per play in the game.
Gamecocks Stave Off Racers
Jacksonville State kept its playoff hopes alive with a dramatic 14-12 win over visiting Murray State on Saturday at a wet and soggy Burgess-Snow Stadium in Jacksonville.
The Racers scored the last 12 points of the game after the Gamecocks built a 14-0 advantage in just over 18 minutes of the opening kickoff. A chance to complete the comeback with a field from 52 yards out by Zadden Webber came up short and wide right on the final play of the game as JSU claimed the victory.
Webber, who missed two field goal attempts earlier in the game, connected on a career-long 53-yarder with 4:59 left in the game.
Zion Webb threw for one touchdown and ran for another to provide JSU with the early advantage. Webb connected with Jamari Hester from 45 yards out with 15 seconds remaining in the first quarter for the first points of the game. The scoring pass was the 21st of Hester’s career to move him into third place on the school’s charts and just two TD receptions away from tying Joey Hamilton (1996-99) for second place.
Webb added the final score of the day for the Gamecocks with a 10-yard scamper with 9:54 remaining in the second quarter.
QB Preston Rice scored on a two-yard burst for the only touchdown of the game for the Racers, who also got a safety from T.J. Warren midway through the final period to make the score 14-9 in favor of JSU and setting the stage for the dramatic finish. Rice ended the day with 231 yards after completing 24-of-46 passes. LaMartez Brooks notched his third 100-yard receiving day after catching four passes for 100 yards in the game.
A native of Bismarck, N.D., Ray is a graduate of North Dakota State University where he began studying athletic training and served as a student trainer for several Bison teams including swimming, wrestling and baseball and was a trainer at the 1979 NCAA national track and field championship meet at the University of Illinois. Ray later worked in the sports information office at NDSU. Following his graduation from NDSU he spent five years in the sports information office at Missouri Western State University and one year in the sports information at Georgia Tech. He has nearly 40 years of writing experience as a sports editor at several newspapers and has received numerous awards for his writing over the years. A noted sports historian, Ray is currently an assistant editor at Amateur Wrestling News.