Early fumbles cause Eastern to stumble at Arkansas

Early fumbles cause Eastern to stumble at Arkansas
Five fumbles turned costly Saturday for Eastern Illinois in its 55-20 season-opening loss at Arkansas. (Photo by Sandy King, EIUPanthers.com)

Kim Dameron’s homecoming at the University of Arkansas turned sour quickly Saturday.

Dameron, the Eastern Illinois head coach who played four years for the Razorbacks, watched his team give away five fumbles in a 55-20 loss to Arkansas in the season opener for both schools.

“We just didn’t take care of the football,” said Dameron, whose team had four first-half fumbles. “I think a lot of it early was the speed of the game, the contact, the size and the speed of the players that were hitting us.”

Arkansas raced out to a 38-6 halftime lead thanks to three first-half TD passes by backup quarterback Ty Storey.

The big highlight for Eastern was senior wide receiver Alexander Hollins’ game-high nine catches and three touchdowns. He caught scoring passes of 43, 15 and 16 yards while piling up 127 receiving yards.

EIU (0-1) rotated two new faces at quarterback, junior transfer Johnathan Brantley (Tulane) and sophomore transfer Harry Woodbery (Navarro JC) in the team’s new Air Raid offense.

Brantley finished 18 of 25 passing for 134 yards and a touchdown. Woodbery threw two TDs while connecting on 9 of 15 passes for 96 yards.

5 Stats That Stood Out

2.2 – Yards per carry by Arkansas in the running game. The Razorbacks outweighed EIU’s offensive line by more than 33 pounds per man.

9 – Number of EIU players with at least one reception, including six catches by senior Aaron Gooch.

72.4 – Completion percentage for Arkansas quarterbacks Ty Storey and Cole Kelley.

81 – Number of total plays by Eastern, which was running the Air Raid for the first time under new offensive coordinator Scott Parr.

82 – Game-high rushing total for EIU junior running back Jamal Scott (of “Last Chance U” fame) on 12 carries.

Defensive Delights

Junior defensive tackle Terrell Greer had a team-high eight tackles for the Panthers. … Redshirt freshman defensive end D’Mitri George had 2.5 tackles for loss and the Panthers’ only sack. … Sophomore defensive back Mark Williams posted two pass breakups.

Kicking woes

EIU’s kicking struggles included two missed field goals by sophomore Matt Severino (47 and 29 yards) and a missed extra point by senior Nick Bruno. The failed PAT broke a string of 64 successful extra points by Bruno.

Injury Alert

Starting offensive linemen Cole Hoover and Luther Harris both left the game on the same series with injuries. Neither player returned to the game. According to the broadcast team, Hoover was suffering from an undisclosed injury, while Harris’ ailment was heat related.

Up Next

The Panthers travel to Normal to face Illinois State (1-0) in the annual Mid-America Classic at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

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