Eastern stumbles with possible playoff spot, 2nd place in OVC on line

Eastern stumbles with possible playoff spot, 2nd place in OVC on line
Isaiah Johnson gained 107 yards to lead the Eastern offense Saturday. (Photo by EIUPanthers.com)

The Eastern Illinois football team posted its third consecutive winning season this fall. That accomplished paled in comparison to what was on the line Saturday night at Austin Peay.

The Panthers sustained an Ohio Valley Conference loss against a Governors team that celebrated one of the great turnarounds stories in college football this fall.

With second place in the OVC on the line, Eastern (6-5 overall, 5-3 OVC) stumbled its way through a 28-13 loss by committing three turnovers, being dominated in time of possession and allowing more than 400 yards of offense.

Austin Peay (8-4, 7-1) strengthened its hopes for an at-large FCS playoff berth by rushing for 325 yards and averaging 4.9 yards per carry. This was Austin Peay’s best season since it won the OVC in 1977.

The Governors, who entered the season on a 29-game losing streak, likely will earn a postseason spot as the second representative from the OVC.

Meanwhile, Eastern endured another season in which it struggled on offense because of an injury to starting quarterback Mitch Kimble.

Saturday’s starter, redshirt freshman Scotty Gilkey Jr., and backup Bud Martin combined to complete 15 of 34 passes for 104 yards.

The only highlight for the EIU offense was junior running back Isaiah Johnson, a native of Clarksville, Tenn., who rushed for 107 yards on 16 carries.

Players of the game

EIU linebacker Nick Horne, playing in the final game of his career, compiled 11 tackles.

Running back Isaiah Johnson rushed for a game-high 107 yards for the Panthers.

Redshirt freshman safety Iziah Gulley had a career-high nine tackles for EIU.

By The Numbers

2 – Receptions, for 18 yards, by Eastern’s leading receiver, junior Alexander Hollins.

9 – Total tackles for loss for the Panthers.

20:54 – Time of possession advantage for Austin Peay.

25 – Yards gains on 12 third-down attempts by Eastern.

30.8 – Percentage of third-down conversions (4 of 13) for Eastern.

66 – Rushing attempts for the Governors.

What’s Next?

Eastern Illinois opens the 2018 season at the University of Arkansas on Sept. 1.

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