OVC Recaps and Weekly Preview, Week of 10/1/2022: Sparse Schedule Offers Glimpse Into OVC Expectations

Only three games were on tap on Oct. 24 in the Ohio Valley Conference. And the results of those game offered some insight into what to expect as the OVC schedule prepares to pick up steam on Oct. 8

Southeast Missouri and UT Martin will look to post back-to-back wins after earning victories a week ago when they return to action this weekend. The Redhawks will make the short journey through the boot hill of Missouri to tangle with Lindenwood in one of two conference games this weekend. The other contest will see Tennessee Tech traveling to UT Martin to take on the defending conference champions. 

Two other league teams are also in action as Tennessee State entertains Lane and Murray State is on the road at Southeast Louisiana.

WALLACE, FRANKLIN SPARK SKYHAWKS IN OVC OPENER

MARTIN, Tenn. – Zak Wallace had a history-making day as No. 18-ranked UT Martin gave OVC newcomer Lindenwood a crash course on football in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Martin rushed for a school record 97-yard touchdown and teammate tallied the first three touchdowns of his career as the Skyhawks rolled past the Lions 56-26 on Sept. 24 at Hardy Graham Stadium in the OVC opener for both teams.

Lindenwood, which won its first games of the season, fell to 1-2 on the season with the loss.

Despite the lopsided victory, it took some time for the Skyhawks to put the visitors away.

Quarterback Dresser Winn got things started for the Skyhawks when he completed a pass to DeVon Tanksley and watched as Tanksley turned it into a 25-yard scoring play that gave UT Martin a 7-0 lead just over four minutes into the game.

The Skyhawks added to that advantage a short time later when Oshae Baker returned an interception 41 yards that put UTM in front 14-0 with 8:38 left in the first period.

Lindenwood would claw back into the game after QB Cade Brister found Darrin Fugitt on a five-yard scoring pass with 4:12 left in the period and a pair of field goals of 40 and 26 yards from Logan Seibert in the second quarter to pull with within 14-13 with 2:10 left before halftime,

Wallace would score his first touchdown of the game on a 12-yard run with just 34 seconds remaining in the half to push the Skyhawk lead to 21-13 at the intermission.

Wallace, who was voted the OVC offensive player of the week, currently leads the nation rushing touchdowns (6), total rushing yards (430) and is second in rushing average with 107.5 yards per game. He also is fifth in all-purpose yards (124.0) and rushing yards per carry with 7.17.

Franklin’s three-yard run early in the third period preceded Wallace’s history-making run. It was also the longest TD run of the season in FCS football.

His two touchdowns on the day also moved Wallace into a tie for third place on the UTM career charts with 22 TDs to tie Jaimiee Bowe, who ran for 22 scores during his career (2015-19) at the school.

Franklin, the co-newcomer of the week in the OVC, would tack on two more touchdowns of his own on runs of 16 and 21 yards later in the game for the Skyhawks. His last score, which came with 12:53 left in the game, put his team in front 49-19 at the time. 

He is the eighth player in program history to rush for at least three touchdowns in a single game.

Winn would close out the scoring a short time later when has passed seven yards to DJ Nelson with 7:21 remaining in the contest.

Lindenwood’s 13 points in the second half came on a one-yard pass from Bister to Andew Martin and a six-yard pass from Cole Duger to Jeff Caldwell with just 1:43 left in the game.

UT Martin needed just 55 offensive plays in the game to rack up 541 yards of total offense. The Skyhawks averaged 9.8 yards per play. The rushing attack, fueled by Wallace and Franklin, churned out 343 yards on the ground and scored five times.

Wallace, who was later voted the offensive player of the week in the OVC, finished the game with 204 yards on just 11 carries and averaged 18.5 yards each time he carried the football. Franklin, meanwhile, chipped in with 56 yards on six carries.

Dresser finished the game with 198 yards after completing 19 of his 26 pass attempts and the two throwing scores.

The 30-point blowout loss also held some bright spot for the visiting Lions, who racked up 429 yards of offense of their own. 

Brister accounted for most of those yards as he completed 25 of 42 pass attempts for 306 yards and the one touchdown. Wide receiver Payton Rose was the top pass-catcher in the game for the Lions. He hauled in seven passes for 156 yard on the afternoon. Martin ran 14 times for 50 yards to lead the Lions in that department.

REDHAWKS OUTSLUG BEARS 35-28

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – A quick start is critical to the successful outcome of any athletic competition. And when that quick start is propelled by a big defensive play and resulting in points, well, good things are normally the result.

It was for Southeast Missouri as the Redhawks outslugged Central Arkansas 35-28 on Sept. 24 at Houck Field.

And it took little time for momentum to find the hosts.

Henry Pickens’ hit on UCA quarterback Will McElvain, on the Bears’ third play of the game, jarred the ball loose and Pickens’ teammate, Bryce Norman, picked the ball up and scampered into the end zone from three yards out to put the Redhawks into the quick lead 7-0 just 5:16 into the contest.

The play proved to be crucial as the two teams combined to score 38 of the game’s 63 points in the second quarter before defense became the name of the game over the final 30 minutes of play before SEMO managed to secure the victory and raise its record to 3-1 on the season. The Redhawks have now won three straight games after opening the season with a loss to Iowa State.

The fireworks between the Bears and Redhawks began to get underway early in the second period when the SEMO defense got caught off guard.

McElvain threw a short pass to Kylin James, who heaved the ball downfield to Jarrod Barnes and covered 80 yards to tie the game at the 14:35 mark of the second period.

The visiting Bears would take the lead six minutes later when the UCA defense got into the scoring act SEMO’s Paxton DeLaurent ran for six yards before pitching the ball, but the pitch was off target and UCA’s T.D. Williams managed to corral the ball and ran in from 85 yards out to put UCA in front 14-7 with 8:33 remaining before halftime.

It turned out to be only lead of the game for the Bears. And it was short lived.

Just 23 seconds later DeLaurent connected with Ryan Flournoy on a picture-perfect pass that covered 62 yards and tied the game 14-14.

DeLaurent, who was later voted the OVC’s newcomer of the week for the third straight week following his performance against the Bears, would throw his second TD pass of the game moments later by finding Johnny King on a 14-yard pass play that put the Redhawks back in the lead and the Bears were forced to play from behind the rest of the way as they found themselves trailing 21-14.

DeLaurent, a transfer from Central Methodist, ranks seventh in the nation in total offense (317.2 ypg) and eighth in passing yards (11,15).

And if defensive plays are not enough of a key, electrifying plays can often prove to be back breakers.

After Hayden Ray booted a 28-yard field goal to bring UCA to within 21-17 with 1:29 left before halftime, Dalyn McDonald took whatever wind there was out of the sails of the Bears.

McDonald returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards to push the SEMO advantage to double digits at 28-17 with 1:15 to go in the first half. It was the second-longest kick return for a touchdown in SEMO history. He was selected as the league’s specialist of the week based on his performance against the Bears.

The second half was a stark contrast to the second quarter. The two teams managed to score just 18 points over the final 30 minutes of play.

And each time it looked like the Bears were ready to close the gap, the Redhawks had the right answer at the right time.

Ray scored the first points of the second half on a 38-yard field goal with 9:17 to go in the third period to bring his team to within 28-20.

SEMO answered by putting together a 61-yard drive that took 12 plays and was capped by DeLaurent, as he ran in from 11 yards away to push the Redhawks’ lead to 35-20 with 10:57 left in the game.

Despite the 15-point deficit, UCA still had plenty of time to mount a comeback. 

The Bears pulled to within 35-28 on a one-yard run by Darius Hall midway through the final period.

But, it would be as close as UCA would get the rest of the way as neither team managed to score again.

DeLaurent finished the game with 252 yards through the air after completing 17 of his 31 passes and the two touchdowns. He also added 60 yards on the ground after carrying the ball 12 times in the game.

Teammate Geno Hess rushed 20 times to 123 yards (6.2 ypc) in the game. It was the 11th game of his career that he has rushed for at least 100 yards.

The SEMO defense limited Central Arkansas to just 16 yards on the ground in the contest. The 16 yards were the fifth fewest allowed by the Redhawks in their FCS era.

McElvain finished the game with 284 yards passing on 19 of 30 passing. Hale was the leading rusher for the Bears with 24 yards on 12 carries. But the SEMO defense left him and the rest of the Bears flummoxed on the ground throughout the game. His longest gain on the day was just seven yards.

PANTHERS RUSH PAST RACERS 35-21

MURRAY, Ky. – Eastern Illinois, behind the play of quarterback Dom Shoffner and running back Kendi Young got off the mat for the first time this season with a 35-21 win over visiting Murray State at O’Brien Field.

The triumph also snapped a nine-game losing streak by EIU that stretched back to last season when Murray State defeated the Panthers 22-6 in Murray one week after EIU had downed Tennessee Tech 28-14 for its last win before the Sept. 24 defeat of the Racers.

Shoffner came into the game on EIU’s second offensive series and led the Panthers to 24 points in the first half as EIU built an impressive 24-14 advantage at the intermission.

After Murray’s Jayden Stinson, who was making his first start of the season, found DeQuan Dallas on a 12-yard scoring pass that put the Racers on the board with 9:28 to play in the opening period, Shoffner pulled his team into a 7-7 tie with he snuck the ball in from just one yard out with 6:41 remaining in the period.

Shoffner gave his team the lead moments later by connecting with Justin Thomas from just two yards away as the Panthers took a 14-7 lead on the visiting Racers with 2:04 left in the opening period. But Murray would answer a short time when Stinson found Taylor Shields on a 28-yard scoring pass that knotted the game at 14-14 at the 12:44 mark of the second quarter.

That was when Eastern Illinois began to clamp down.

Stone Galloway returned the lead to the Panthers when he booted a 25-yard field goal to give his team a 17-14 advantage with 6:56 to go before halftime.

It would be a lead EIU would not relinquish.

Young’s 36-yard scoring jaunt with less than one minute remaining before halftime put the Panthers in front 24-14 at the intermission.

Stinson’s third TD pass of the game, this one coming from six yards to LaMartez Brooks, pulled the Racers to within 24-21 early in the final quarter. But the Panthers were able to withstand MSU the rest of the way.

Galloway added his second field goal of the game on a 32-yarder with 6:23 to go and Shoffner found the end zone on an eight-yard run with 2:46 to cap the scoring and put the finishing touches on the Racers.

The score came just 23 seconds after Elijawah Tolbert intercepted a Stinson pass to thwart any comeback hopes the Racers may have had. It was the second interception of the game for Tolbert, who was tabbed the defensive player of the week in the Ohio Valley Conference.

Jordan Vincent and Mark Aitken also had interceptions for the Panthers.

Shoffner finished the game with just five completions on 14 attempts for 74 yards, 51 of which came in the first half, and the one score. He added 88 yards rushing on a team-high 17 carries. Young, meanwhile, rushed eight times for 160 yards to help the Panthers to a huge advantage on the ground in the game. He had 79 yards in the first half.

Eastern Illinois rushed 52 times against the Racers for 339 yards, compared to MSU’s 23 carries for just 73 yards.

Stinson paced MSU with 334 yards through the air after completing 28 of 46 passes. He was intercepted four times in the contest. 

Jawaun Northington paced the Racers with 64 rushing on 16 carries in the contest.

OVC Standings (thru games of Sept. 24)

2022 OVC Standings

PosTeamWLConf WConf LPFPA
15120212144
23220180144
3131089128
42311127193
5040134163
6050165171
72303146163

Last Week’s Results

Sept. 24

35 - 21
Roy Stewart Stadium

Eastern Illinois 35, Murray State 21

Highlights: Available

This Week’s Schedule

49 - 28
Hunter Stadium

Southeast Missouri State 49, Lindenwood 28

Highlights: Available
14 - 48
Strawberry Stadium

Southeastern Louisiana 48, Murray State 14

Highlights: Available

OVC Players of the Week

Offense: Zack Wallace, RB, UT Martin
Defense: Elijawah Tolbert, LB, Eastern Illinois
Specialist: Dalyn McDonald, RS, SE Missouri
Newcomer: Paxton DeLaurent, QB, SEMO & Sam Franklin, RB, UT Martin

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