OVC Recaps and Weekly Preview, Week of 9/25/2022: Conference Champs Begin Title Defense

Talk about getting thrown into the fire.

Ohio Valley Conference newcomer Lindenwood will put its perfect season on the line when the Lions tangle with defending conference champion UT Martin on Sept. 24.

Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.

The Skyhawks, ranked No. 18 in the last STATS Perform Top 25, will look to get back on the winning track against the league newcomer. UT Martin dropped a 30-7 decision last weekend on the road at Boise State and is now 1-2 on the season.

Lindenwood is in its first year of Division 1 membership is averaging 29 points and 440 yards of offense through the first two games of the season. The Lions are allowing just 11.5 points per contest on defense.

It will be the first-ever meeting between the two schools.

Just three other conference members are in action this weekend. Southeast Missouri entertains Central Arkansas on Saturday while Eastern Illinois and Murray State square off in the only other conference game on the slate.

Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State are both idle.

Here is a look at last weekend’s action in and around the Ohio Valley Conference:


CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. – Southeast Missouri scored 14 points in the second quarter to start to break away from a close game and went on roll past visiting Nicholls State 42-16 on Sept. 17 at Houck Field.

SEMO improved to 2-1 on the season with the win, while Nicholls is still winless in three starts in 2022.

It was the first-ever meeting between the Redhawks and Nicholls.

The homestanding Redhawks wasted little time in putting the Colonels in the hole. They took the opening kickoff and marched 60 yards in eight plays and capping the drive when quarterback Paxton DeLaurent connected with standout running back Geno Hess on a play that covered four yards to push SEMO into the lead with 10:26 left to go in the opening period.

It was the first of three touchdowns on the day for Hess.

DeLaurent got into the scoring act early in the second period when he ran in from nine yards out to extend the SEMO advantage to 14-0 with 14:53 remaining before halftime.

The visiting Colonels closed to within 14-7 late in the period when Kohen Granier passed to Lee Negrotto for a five-year scoring pass. It would be as close as Nicholls would get the rest of the way.

SEMO began to pull away when DeLaurent passed 18 yards to Ryan Flournoy to give the Redhawks a 14-point cushion for the second time at 21-7 with 1:56 left before halftime.

Hess scored for the second time in the game, this time running in from eight yards out early in the second half to push the SEMO lead to 28-7 with 10:56 left in the third period.

It was the 33rd rushing touchdown in Hess’ career in Cape Girardeau. He now trails Walter Smallwood by just three rushing touchdowns for the top mark in school history in that department. Hess added his third touchdown early in the final period when he caught a pass from DeLaurent and took it into the end zone on an 11-yard scoring play for what turned out to be the final points of the game. It was the fifth time in his career he has scored at least three touchdowns in a game for the Redhawks.

SEMO’s special teams also got into the scoring act when Christian Fuhrman blocked a Nicholls punt and teammate Garrett Todd corralled the loose ball and scampered 29 yards for a touchdown to put the Redhawks in front 35-10 at the time.

DeLaurent ended the day with 309 passing yards after completing 22 of his 32 pass attempts. Hess, meanwhile, carried 14 times in the game for 70 yards and averaged a solid five yard each time he ran the ball.

Johnny King, one of 11 SEMO receivers who caught a pass in the game, led the Redhawks with five catches for 82 years. Flournoy chipped in with four catches for 52 yards.

The SEMO defense, which held the Colonels to just 299 yards, including just 50 yards on the ground, was paced by Bryce Norman’s 17 total tackles on the day.


ST. CHARLES, Mo. – Ohio Valley Conference newcomer Lindenwood remained perfect on the young season with an impressive 37-3 triumph over NAIA member Keiser on Sept. 17 in front or more than 4,000 fans at Hunter Stadium in St. Charles, just outside of St. Louis.

And it didn’t take the Lions long to begin putting stamp on the first home game of the season.

Cade Brister found Payton Ross open for a scoring pass that covered 33 yards to open the scoring for Lindenwood. The result of the play gave the Lions a 7-0 lead with 8:38 remaining in the first period following Logan Seibert’s conversion kick.

It was the 71st touchdown pass of Brister’s career and set a new standard at Lindenwood.

Chance Gagnon answered Rose’s score by connecting on a 32-yard field goal just over six minutes later to pull Keiser to within 7-3 at the time.

It turned out to be the only points the visitors would post to the scoreboard as the Lions reeled off 30 unanswered points to close the game.

Brister would throw two more touchdown passes in the game and finished with 377 yards after completing 19 of his 32 passes in the game. He was intercepted once.

Brister found Kobe Smith for an 11-yard scoring play early in the second quarter to give the Lions a 14-3 lead and then found Smith wide open later in the period from 78 yards out that extended the margin to 21-3 with 6:59 left to play in the first half.

Martin Andrew added a two-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and teammate Justin Williams ran in from 16 yards out for what proved to be the final points of the game with 9:37 remaining in the game. Seibert booted a 32-yard field goal between those two touchdowns.

Rose finished the game with 180 receiving yards after hauling in seven catches, while Smith chipped in with five catches for 111 yards, including 104 yards after the catch.

Lindenwood finished with 521 yards of total offense, but only 126 of those yards came on the ground. Andrew led the ground attack with nine carries for 59 yards, while Brister added 23 yards on five carries in the game.

Spencer Shea completed 20 of his 32 passes for 161 yards for Keiser, which totaled 308 yards of offense. He distributed the ball to 10 difference receivers in the game.

Michael Robinson was the top pass catcher by hauling in six passes for 86 yards, while Jaylen Arnold and Marques Burgess, who led the visitors with 86 rushing yards (19 carries), added five and four catches, respectively. Arnold finished with 43 yards in the game while Burgess chipped in with 41 yards.


COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Michael Hiers connected with Chandler Smith, who scored three times in the game, from 26 yards out with just 25 seconds to go in the game to lift No. 24 Samford to a 33-28 win over upset-minded Tennessee Tech on Sept. 17 in Cookeville.

The score capped an 11-play drive that covered 75 yards and taking 2:23 off the clock.

Oh, by the way, it left TTU with nary a chance at any last second heroics of its own.

Tech’s last-ditch effort was marred by a huge penalty called against the Golden Eagles for holding that negated a completion to Brad Clark go for naught and moving the ball back. Quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall passed to Bradley Clark for 24 yards and giving the Golden Eagles one final play.

Trickeration sometimes works. Most times, not.

Oatsvall passed to David Gist, who then lateralled to Willie Miller, who then lateralled to Metrius Fleming before the play got blown up and ending the game.

Tennessee Tech had seemingly put itself in a position to win the game moments earlier when Oatsvall scampered 18 for a score to put his team in front 28-27 following Hayden Olsen’s successful conversion kick with 2:43 left in regulation.

Oatsvall finished the game with 255 passing yards by completing 19 of 34 passes. He had two TD passes in the game.

He completed a pass to Gist, who turned it into a 10-yard scoring play, for the first points of the pass with just 2:38 gone in the game to give TTU an early 7-0 lead.

His second scoring pass came from 53 yards out to Miller that gave TTU a 14-10 lead just 1:23 left in the first quarter.

Gist led the way on the ground for the Golden Eagles. He rushed 19 times for 93 yards, including a three-yard run midway through the second quarter that put his team in front 21-10 at the time. Oatsvall finished with 47 yards on nine carries in the game.

Clark paced the Golden Eagles with five catches for 53 yards in the game, while teammate Barnhart registered a game-high 111 yards on fust four catches. Miller chipped in with 74 yards on three receptions. 

Hiers tallied 327 through the air for Samford in the game. He completed 29 of 47 passes and four touchdowns against the Golden Eagles.

He completed three scoring passes to Smith that covered nine and 11 yards before the eventual game-winner. Peyton Ringer added a scoring reception of his own on a 39-yard pass from Hiers with 2:58 left in the second quarter that pulled his team within 21-17 at the time.

Jay Stanton led Samford with 98 yards on 20 carries and teammate Jaylan Thomas finished right behind with 96 rushing yards on 13 carries in the game. Judd Crockett and Smith both caught five passes in the game with Crockett’s receptions covering 70 yards and Smith’s totaling 56 yards for the Bulldogs. 

Nathan East led the Bulldogs with seven tackles, two quarterback hurries and an interception that he returned 13 yards for a touchdown in the game.


MUNCIE, Ind. – Even a change at quarterback was not enough to end the early-season woes for Murray State as Ball State handed the Racer at 31-0 setback on Sept. 17 at Scheumann Stadium

It was the third loss in as many starts this season for MSU.

Murray State has scored just 13 points in its three games this season.

Isaac McNamee, a true freshman, became the third difference starting quarterback for the Racers when he got the nob against the Cardinals. He finished with just seven completions on 22 pass attempts for 57 yards in the game.

MSU’s Jamari Dailey paced the Racers with 11 tackles on defense against the Cardinals. Davontae McKee and Eric Samuta both chipped in with eight tackles in the game.

Jawaun Northington, another true freshman, carried the ball 17 times for 71 yards. Ball State outgained the Racers on the ground 249-87.

John Paddock paced the Cardinals with 227 yards through the air after completing 27 of 44 passes, including three passes that turned into touchdowns for Ball State. Carson Steele, a running back, rushed 25 times for 141 yards (5.6 ypc) and one touchdown in the contest.


BOISE, Idaho – A spirited defensive performance in the second half kept UT Martin with a glimmer of hope of rallying to defeat Boise State. But in the end, it was a slow start that spelled doom.

The Broncos posted a 30-7 win over the Skyhawks on Sept. 17 in front of 36,396 fans at Albertsons Stadium.

Boise State, which held a 20-7 lead at halftime, was limited to just 76 yards on 36 plays over the final 30 minutes of the game.

That score remained until midway through the final quarter when BSU saw a drive stall and settling for a field goal to increase the lead to 23-7. A turnover by the Skyhawks on the very next play set up a short field and three plays later running back George Holani scored from eight yards out to close the book on the scoring and ending any comeback hopes of UT Martin.

The Skyhawks surrendered only 327 yards of total offense in the loss to the Broncos. And the UT Martin defense, led by Rob Hicks, recorded nine tackles for loss, including three sacks in the game and forcing a pair of fumbles by the Broncos. Hicks finished with a game-high 11 tackles in the game for the Skyhawks. It was his third straight game with at least 10 tackles.

Dresser Winn complete 13 of 23 passes for 104 yards and one touchdown. Colton Dowell paced the Skyhawks with five receptions for 53 yards, both game-highs, to go along with his touchdown which came from 37 yards out with 4:25 left in the opening quarter that forced a 7-7 tie at the time. Devonte Tanksley added four receptions for 28 yards in the game.

Teammate Zak Wallace was the leading rusher for UT Martin. He finished the contest with 12 carries for just 11 yards in the game.

Hank Bachmeier completed 18 of 25 for 204 yards and a pair of TDs for the Broncos. His first scoring pass covered four yards to Stefan Cobbs for the first points of the game just 5:19 into the game. Bachmeier later connected with Holani for a four-yard scoring play that pushed the BSU lead to 20-7 with just 14 seconds remaining in the opening half. He finished the game with 24 carries for 117 yards and added four catches for 47 yards for the Broncos. Latrell Caples also caught four passes and finished with 48 yards in the game.

Jonah Dalmas booted three field goals (37, 48, 34) for the Broncos.


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – The offensive woes continued for Tennessee State as the Tigers made the short trip down the highway on Sept. 17 only to lose Middle Tennessee. The Blue Raiders won the game 49-6.

TSU, meanwhile, has scored just nine points over the last two games.

Middle Tennessee was running on all cylinders against the visiting Tigers. 

The Blue Raiders scored first on a one-yard run by Frank Peasant to take a 7-0 lead with 4:11 left to play in the opening period. Less than two minutes later quarter Chase Cunningham connected with Jaylin Lane for a 15-yard scoring toss to increase the lead to 14-0.

Jalen Montgomery also got into the action for the MTSU defense when he picked up a blocked punt off the foot of Kaleb Mosley and returned it 19 yards for the third touchdown of the period for the Blue Raiders, who added three more touchdowns in the second quarter to build a 42-0 lead at the intermission.

Draylen Ellis, a transfer quarterback from Austin Peay, completed just 12 of 18 passes for 96 yards in the game for Tennessee State. Backup signal caller Chayil Garnett come to complete six of 10 passes for 53 yards and one touchdown. 

The score went to Jalen Rouse for 34 yards and was the only catch of the game for Rouse, who led his team with 28 rushing yards in the game. 

Cunningham was efficient against an over-matched TSU defense as he completed 20 of 24 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns.

Peasant was the workhorse on the ground for Middle Tennessee. He rushed 13 times for 122 yards and three touchdowns in the game. He scored two times in the course of 60 seconds for his other scores on the night. Peasant scored on a two-yard run as time expired in the first half before peeling off an 85-yard jaunt just one minute into the second half that put his team in front 49-0 at the time.

JJ Holloman caught six passes for 50 yards to pace the Tigers in both categories.


NORMAL, Ill. – The 110th Mid-America Classic went the way of Illinois State. 

And it really wasn’t close.

The Redbirds scored 28 unanswered points to cruise to a 35-7 triumph over in-state rival Eastern Illinois on Sept. 17 at Hancock Stadium. The win improved ISU to 2-1 on the season and keeping the Panthers winless in three starts to start the season.

Five different players each scored a touchdown for the Redbirds with J’Kalon Carter opening the festivities by taking a pass from Zack Annexstad and turning it into a 17-yard scoring play that put ISU in front 7-0 midway through the first quarter.

Dewayne Cooks managed to tie the game for the Panthers by scoring from 11 yards out on a pass from Jonah O’Brien to knot the score at 7-7 with 3:04 left in the first period.

It was all Redbirds after that.

Annexstad tallied his second TD of the night through the air when he connected with Daniel Sobkowicz for 30 yards to break the tie with 6:25 left in the first half. ISU extended the lead to 21-7 when Jeff Bowens intercepted a pass and returned it 40 yards for the score with 1:09 remaining in the half. 

It was one of two defensive touchdowns for the Redbirds in the game.

Deandre Lamont also returned an interception three yards for a touchdown with 12:11 left in the third quarter.

Annexstad closed out the scoring by keeping the ball himself on a two-yard run with 5:53 remaining in the period.

O’Brien was limited to just 106 yards passing in the game after completing 15 of 21 passes. Three of his pass attempts found their way into the hands of the opposition.

The Panthers also struggled running the football and were limited to just 40 yards on 38 carries in the contest.

Dom Shoffner led the way with 39 yards on five carries, while Kendi Young and Jaelin Benefield chipped in with 32 and 31 yards, respectively, for the Panthers, who were sacked four times in the game and losing 47 yards on those plays.

Annexstad ended the game with 212 yards passing after completing 19 of 33 passes in the contest. He was intercepted twice in the contest. His favorite target on the night, Carter, caught four passes for 56 yards.

Rashad Lampkin and Pha’leak Brown finished with 35 (four carries) and 28 (eight carries), respectively, rushing for the Redbirds.

Ohio Valley Conference Standings

2022 OVC Standings

PosTeamWLConf WConf LPFPA

This Week’s Schedule (Sept. 24)

35 - 21
Roy Stewart Stadium

Eastern Illinois 35, Murray State 21

Highlights: Available

Last Week’s Results (Sept. 17)

7 - 30
Albertsons Stadium

Boise State 30, UT Martin 7

Highlights: Available
33 - 28
Tucker Stadium

Samford 33,Tennessee Tech 28

Highlights: Available
6 - 49
Red Floyd Stadium

Middle Tennessee State 49, Tennessee State 6

Highlights: Available
7 - 35
Hancock Stadium

Illinois State 35, Eastern Illinois 7

Highlights: Available

OVC Players of the Week (Week Three)

Offense: Cade Brister, QB, Lindenwood
Defense: Bryce Norman, LB, SE Missouri
Specialist: Trey Wilhoit, P, Eastern Illinois
Newcomer: Paxton DeLaurent, QB, SE Missouri