While the arrival of a new college football was welcomed by a throng of fans from coast to coast, the Ohio Valley Conference had a less than rousing performance in the first week of the new season.
UT Martin was the lone OVC squad to come away with a win as the league combined for a 1-5 record to open the year.
Eastern Illinois and Tennessee State, despite losing their season openers, turned in solid performances before falling late in their respective contests.
Lindenwood, the league’s newest member, opens its first season in the Ohio Valley Conference on Sept. 10 when the Lions travel to take on Houston Baptist.
UT MARTIN 42, WESTERN ILLINOIS 25
MARTIN, Tenn. – UT Martin put on a display on Thursday, showing the reason the Skyhawks are among the best teams in the nation by leading from start to finish on the way to rolling all over Western Illinois 42-25 in the 2022 on Sept. 1 in the season opener for both schools.
UT Martin rolled up 577 yards of total offense in the game with 317 of those yards coming through the air and 260 yards on the ground. The Skyhawks’ defense forced two turnovers in the game and special teams blocked a pair of kicks.
Zak Wallace led the Skyhawks with 20 carries for 139 yards in the game and scoring three times for the victors. He was later voted the co-offensive player of the week in the OVC for his efforts against the Leathernecks.
Wallace scored three touchdowns in a game for the second time in his career at UT Martin and moved into seventh place on the school’s list with 21 rushing scores. Sam Franklin, a redshirt freshman, finished the game with 89 rushing yards to bolster UT Martin on the ground.
Dresser Winn completed 22 of his 37 pass attempts in the game and threw for three touchdowns. It was the third 300-yard passing performance of his career. Colton Dowell caught seven passes 100 yards and a touchdown for the Skyhawks. He now has 1,860 receiving yards in his career to move into sixth place on the school’s all-time list in that department while his 14 career receiving touchdowns is the 14th most in school history.
Western Illinois managed to compile a respectable 405 yards of total offense in the game. Quarterbacks Henry Ogala and Nick Davenport combined to throw for 285 yards and four touchdowns in the game, Davenport completed nine of 19 passes for 180 yards and three touchdowns, while Ogala completed 12 of 19 passes for 105 yards and one score.
Naseim Brantley caught six passes for 171 yards to pace the Leathernecks in that department. Nick Davenport led WIU with 62 rushing yards after carrying the ball eight times.
UT Martin cornerback Shaun Lewis, who had three tackles and a pair of interceptions, along with a pass breakup in his debut with the Skyhawks, was voted the OVC defensive player of the week for his efforts against the Leathernecks. He was also tabbed as the league’s newcomer of the week. He is a graduate transfer after previously playing at the University of Houston.
UT Martin gets a stiff test when the Skyhawks play at Missouri State on Sept. 8. Western Illinois, which competes in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, travels to take on Minnesota on Sept. 10 in Minneapolis.
NORTHERN ILLINOIS 34, EASTERN ILLINOIS 27
DEKALB, Ill. – Eastern Illinois gave defending Mid-American Conference champion Northern Illinois all it could handle, but came up just a tad short as the Huskies came away with a 34-27 triumph on Sept. 1.
EIU, which held a 441-379 advantage in total yards, trailed 21-6 at halftime and closed to within 34-27 when Jonah O’Brien connected with Jay Vallie for an eight-yard TD pass with 2:04 left in the game.
The onside kick was unsuccessful but NIU’s 43-yard field goal attempt with 58 seconds remaining was wide right and the Panthers had one final chance to tie the game. O’Brien’s pass to Nile Hill in the closing seconds saw Hill tackled at the NIU-36 as time expired thwarting the comeback effort.
Three running backs found the end zone for the Huskies in the game with Harrison Waylee leading the way with 83 yards on 14 carries and Antario Brown carrying 13 times for 70 yards. Teammate Mason Blakemore chipped in with 35 yards on just five carries in the game for NIU.
Quarterback Rocky Lombardi completed 14 of 22 passes for 192 yards and one touchdown in the contest.
O’Brien finished the game with 276 yards passing after completing 25 of 34 pass attempts and throwing three touchdowns. He was intercepted twice in the game by the Huskies.
Justin Thomas and Jaelin Benefield combined to catch 10 passes for 140 yards in the game for Eastern Illinois. Thomas had six catches for 83 yards while Benefield hauled in four passes for 57 yards and added 63 yards rushing in the contest. Both scored one TD through the air for the Panthers.
Pierre Markenzy paced EIU with 14 carries for 100 yards.
Stone Galloway connected on a pair of field goals (34, 25) in the first half for EIU to aid in its scoring. He was later voted the specialist of the week in the OVC after his nine-point performance against the Huskies.
Eastern Illinois is scheduled to entertain Chattanooga on Sept. 10 at O’Brien Field in Charleston. Northern Illinois, meanwhile, plays at Tulsa that same day.
KANSAS 56, TENNESSEE TECH 10
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It’s been a while since Kansas had a game like it had against visiting Tennessee Tech. But, the Jayhawks will certainly spend some time basking in the results.
Kansas scored on four of its first five drives of the game on the way to defeating the Golden Eagles 56-10 on Sept. 2 at David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium.
The tandem of quarterback Jalon Daniels and running back Devin Neal provided much of the firepower for the Jayhawks. Daniels, a junior completed 15 of 18 passes for 189 yards and one touchdown, while Neal rushed four times for 108 yards (27.0 ypc).
Daniels threw to Lawrence Arnold for 21 yards on the first possession of the game and Neal capped the drive with a ran in from 19 yards to give the Jayhawks the early lead they would never relinquish. Daniel Hishaw added a nine-yard scoring run and Cobee Bryant returned a blocked field attempt 61 yards for a touchdown as KU built a 21-0 lead at the end of the first period.
Tennessee Tech got on the board with a 28-yard field goal from Devin Parker early in the second quarter.
Kansas, which led 35-3 at halftime, continued to add to its lead by scoring 21 points in the second half and led 56-3 before TTU found the end zone with five minutes left in the game when quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall passed to Heath Price on a four-yard scoring play that made the score 56-10 following the conversion kick by the Golden Eagles.
Oatsvall finished the game with 76 passing yards after completing 10 of 18 passes and led TTU with 42 rushing yards on 12 carries. David Gist was limited to just 34 yards on 16 carries in the contest.
Willie Miller and Metrius Fleming both caught three passes in the game for 28 and 21 yards, respectively, for the Golden Eagles while O.J. Ross added 21 yards of his own on one reception.
Sevion Morrison and Daniel Hishaw also had solid performances running the football the Kansas. Morrison carried eight times for 70 yards (8.8 ypc) and Hishaw, who missed all of last season with an injury, finished the game with 56 yards on just five carries (11.0 ypc).
Tennessee Tech will face Texas A&M-Commerce in its home opener on Sept. 10, while Kansas travels to Morgantown, W.V. on Sept. 10 to open Big 12 play when they face the Mountaineers of West Virginia.
IOWA STATE 42, SE MISSOURI 10
AMES, Iowa – There was a time not long ago that going up against Iowa State provided an FCS team a darn good chance of coming away with a victory. Since the arrival of Matt Campbell as coach of the Cyclones, meeting ISU is mostly a barometer as to where an FCS team needs to improve.
Southeast Missouri learned it has some work to do as the Redhawks dropped a 42-10 decision to the Cyclones on Sept. 3 at Jack Trice Stadium.
New Cyclone quarterback Hunter Dekkers, who has taken over for departed signal caller Brock Purdy, completed 25 of 31 passes for 293 yard and four touchdowns in his first collegiate start. Three of those scoring passes went to talent wide receiver Xavier Hutchinson, who caught eight passes and finished the afternoon with 128 yards through the air.
The other scoring pass from Dekkers went to DeShawn Hanika, who ended with two catches for 16 yards. ISU’s Jirehl Brock led the Cyclones on the ground with 104 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.
SEMO quarterback Paxton DeLaurent was making the first Division 1 start of his career after transferring from NAIA Central Methodist. He completed for 222 yards and one touchdown in the season opener while also averaging 6.2 yards per carry after leading his team in rushing with 74 yards on 12 carries.
After stopping the Redhawks on the opening drive of the game, Iowa State scored on three straight possessions with all three being capped on TD passes from Dekkers to Hutchinson. The first two each went for 33 yards and the third came on an eight-yard pass that pushed the Cyclone’s lead to 21-0 with 7:54 remaining in the first half.
SEMO did make things interesting for a short time by scoring 10 points in the final 2:27 of the half to close to within 21-10 at the intermission.
DeLaurent connected with former Missouri State receiver Damoriea Vick on an 11-yard pass play and two plays later, Joedrick Lewis intercepted a Dekkert pass and returned it to the ISU-7. That led to a 23-yard field goal from DC Pippin, the first of his career, to close out the scoring for SEMO on the afternoon.
The Cyclones scored three times in the second half, including a pair of TDs to seal the victory.
Iowa State travels to in-state rival Iowa on Sept. 10 for its annual Cy-Hawk battle against the Hawkeyes. Southeast Missouri, meanwhile, travels to Southern Illinois that same day.
EASTERN WASHINGTON 36, TENNESSEE STATE 29
CHENEY, Wash. – Tennessee State got a strong performance from new quarterback Draylen Ellis, but the Tigers came up a bit short in the season opener as Eastern Washington scored late to defeat TSU 36-29 on Sept. 3 on the red turf of Roos Field in Cheyney.
EWU quarterback Gunner Talkington connected with Efton Chism on a 13-yard scoring play with 2:39 left in the game to lift the Eagles to the victory. The game-winning drive covered 75 yards in 11 plays and took just under four minutes.
Ellis connected with Zack Dobson on pass play that covered 67 yards on the first play from scrimmage for the Tigers as they grabbed the quick lead in the contest.
Ellis found Cam Wyche a short time later on a pass that covered 57 yards as the visiting Tigers regained the lead at 13-8.
Ellis, who starred at Austin Peay the past two seasons before transferring to Tennessee State, finished the game with 17 completions and 27 pass attempts for 257 and two touchdowns in the game. He also ran 22 times for 82 yards and one touchdown.
The two teams continued to trade leads throughout the game before Tennessee State tied the game 29-29 on a four-yard run by Ellis with 6:32 remaining in the game and setting the stage for the dramatic finish.
Ellis’ teammate, Devon Starling, paced the Tigers with 207 yards on the ground and averaged 8.3 yards per carry on 25 carries on the day, including a 43-yard touchdown run that gave his team a 19-15 lead at the time. Starling was later voted the OVC co-offensive player of the week for his performance against the Eagles.
TSU finished the day with 547 yards of total offense, including 290 yards on the ground.
Dobson was on the receiving most of the Ellis’ aerial attempts. Dobson caught five passes for 132 yards and one touchdown. Wyche racked up 95 yards on eight receptions and also scored one touchdown on the day for the Redhawks.
Talkington finished the day with 348 passing yards after completing 29 of 46 attempts and throwing for five touchdowns in the win over the Tigers. He also led the team in rushing after carrying the ball nine times for 68 yards.
Chism and teammate Freddie Roberson each caught six passes to lead the Eagles in that department. Roberson’s receptions went for a team-high 91 yards while Chism finished with 53 yards.
Tennessee State is schedule to tangle with Jackson State on Saturday in the annual Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tenn. Eastern Washington, meanwhile, travels to Eugene, Ore. to face the Oregon Ducks on Saturday night.
TEXAS TECH 63, MURRAY STATE 10
LUBBOCK, Texas – This one was all Texas Tech as the Red Raiders rolled all over Murray State 63-10 on Sept. 3 at Jones AT&T Stadium.
Donovan Smith, one of three quarterbacks to see action in the game for Tech, completed 14 of 16 passes for 221 yards and four touchdowns for the Red Raiders. Teammates Tyler Shough added 154 yards after completing six of 10 pass attempts, while Behren Morton finished with 97 yards through the air after connecting on seven of 10 passes in the game.
Tech’s Tahj Brooks led the victors on the ground with 50 yards on six carries (three touchdowns) and teammate SaRodorick Thompson finished with 48 yards on seven carries in the contest. Thompson had one touchdown through the air in the game.
Loic Fouonji caught four passes for 110 yards for the Red Raiders and Jerand Bradley added 108 yards on six catches. Both scored twice in the game.
Murray State’s only touchdown came early in the second period when DJ Williams found Jacob Bell on a pass play that covered 54 yards and pulled the Racers to within 21-10 at the time.
Williams threw for 207 yards in the game after completing eight of 16 passes and the one touchdown. Damonta Witherspoon was the leading ground gainer for MSU with 45 yards on 13 carries.
Aaron Baum connected on a 31-yard field goal with 2:29 remaining in the first quarter for the first points of the game for the Racers to move him into 11th place on the school’s all-time field goal list with 20 made field goals. His successful PAT later in the game was the 100th point he has scored for the Racers in his career.
Murray State plays host to former OVC member Jacksonville State on Sept. 10 while Texas Tech entertains in-state foe Houston that same day.
2022 OVC Standings
1 – UT Martin 0-0 1-0
2 – Lindenwood 0-0 0-0
3 – Murray State 0-0 0-1
Eastern Illinois 0-0 0-1
SE Missouri 0-0 0-1
Tennessee State 0-0 0-1
Tennessee Tech 0-0 0-1
Last Week’s Results
Northern Illinois 34, Eastern Illinois 27
UT Martin 42, Western Illinois 25
Kansas 56, Tennessee Tech 10
Eastern Washington 36, Tennessee State 29
Iowa State 42, SE Missouri 10
Texas Tech 63, Murray State 10
This Week’s Games
UT Martin at Missouri State
Chattanooga at Eastern Illinois
Lindenwood at Houston Baptist
Murray State hosts Jacksonville State
SE Missouri at Southern Illinois
Tennessee State vs. Jackson State (at Memphis, Tenn.)
Tennessee Tech hosts TAMU-Commerce
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.