Eastern offense sputters through loss to FBS No. Illinois

Eastern offense sputters through loss to FBS No. Illinois
Kicker Nick Wilson's 20-yard field goal in the first quarter were the only points EIU's offense produced Saturday until midway through the fourth quarter. (Photo by Sandy King)

The offenses in Saturday’s Northern Illinois vs. Eastern Illinois game provided two vastly different story lines.

Playing with a second-string quarterback, NIU rolled up 499 yards of offense and turned two  turnovers in a critical second quarter into 14 points.

Eastern (1-1) sputtered and stumbled throughout the day on offense, managing 187 yards and a meager 2.4 yards per play in a 38-10 loss against the FBS Huskies (1-1)

“The statement that we made today is that we need to get a lot better as a football team,” EIU head coach Kim Dameron told the media after the game. “We are going to go back this week and look at ourselves first, including me. We’re going to find out what we can do better.”

Eastern was down 7-3 after an even first quarter. But two interceptions by EIU quarterback Mitch Kimble became 14 NIU points as the Huskies roared to a 31-3 halftime lead.

While NIU took advantage of three turnovers and good field position, Eastern had nine drives  of 13 yards or less on the day. Seven of EIU’s 16 drives Saturday produced less than 5 yards.

EIU’s defense and special teams collected three turnovers and blocked two field goals, but the offense failed to cash in. The three turnovers yielded on three points.

Kimble was 14-for-27 passing with two interceptions and was sacked twice. Eight EIU players who carried the ball managed only 1.3 yards a carry.

Players Of The Game

EIU linebacker Joe Caputo had five tackles and an acrobatic interception which he tipped the ball in the air, hauled it in and returned 14 yards.

Nick Horne, a senior linebacker for EIU, led the Panthers with eight total tackles and two tackles for loss.

Defensive linemen Levi Watson and David Johnson each blocked an NIU field-goal attempt.

Quotes Of The Week

“We squandered opportunities that we had. We had chances to make a couple plays, but we didn’t make them.” – EIU head coach Kim Dameron

By The Numbers

2 – EIU players ejected for targeting penalties in Saturday’s game, defensive end Josh Price and safety Bradley Dewberry.

5 – Third-down conversions for EIU in 17 attempts.

40 – Average punt distance for EIU punter Cody Edwards against NIU. He averaged 38.3 yards a punt last season.

194 – Total penalty yards against NIU, a school record.

What’s Next?

Eastern hosts Illinois State for the 106th meeting in the annual Mid-America Classic series at 2 p.m. Sept. 16 in Charleston.

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