Scotty Gilkey Jr. limped off the field, arms raised over his head signaling a touchdown.
Whatever pain the Eastern Illinois redshirt freshman quarterback was in after collecting bumps and bruises while carrying the ball 25 times, winning was a welcome cure.
Gilkey leaped over the goal line from 1 yard out Saturday night in the second overtime to give the Panthers (3-2) a 19-16 victory against No. 24 Tennessee State in Nashville.
Gilkey had a pair of touchdown runs in the game and rushed for 104 yards to become only the third EIU quarterback in history to rush for 100 yards in a game.
The victory gave Eastern a 2-0 start in Ohio Valley Conference play.
After freshman kicker Matt Severino booted a career-long 42-yard field goal in overtime, TSU tied the game in the first overtime, then took a 16-13 lead on Lane Clark’s third field goal of the game.
On a fourth-and-2 play at the TSU 5-yard line in the second overtime, a trick play turned the tide.
A direct snap to running back Darshon McCullough was fumbled. McCullough recovered and pitched the ball to wide receiver Aaron Gooch, who threw a pass into the end zone to Gilkey.
The play drew a pass interference penalty and set up the winning run.
TSU head coach Rod Reed disputed the pass interference call after the game, though replays showed Gilkey being hit by a defender before the ball arrived in the end zone.
Not lost among Gilkey’s heroics was the play of EIU’s defense.
The Panthers held TSU (3-2) to 83 rushing yards, more than 100 below the Tigers’ season average. Senior linebacker Nick Horne was a major contributor with 12 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.
EIU piled up eight tackles for loss in the victory and forced TSU starting quarterback Treon Harris to be benched.
Eastern’s defense limited TSU’s quarterbacks to 17 completions on 30 attempts and gave up only three plays of longer than 20 yards.
Players of the game
Defensive end David Johnson, battling injury throughout the game, had seven tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss for the Panthers.
EIU linebacker Joe Caputo had six tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery.
Linebackers Dytarious Johnson and Antonio Crosby both had fumble recoveries for Eastern.
By the numbers
2 – EIU players who kicked field goals in the game. Nick Wilson connected on a 32-yarder in the second quarter.
2.2 – Yards per carry by Tennessee State.
3 – Third-down conversions on 14 attempts by the Tigers.
4 – Turnovers forced by Eastern’s defense.
19 – Yards for EIU’s Aaron Gooch, the Panthers’ leading receiver.
46 – Total passing yards for Eastern in the victory.
70 – Total yards EIU’s defense held Tennessee State under its season average.
Tennessee Tech (0-5) at Eastern Illinois, 6 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7 in Charleston, Ill.