Eastern hosts UT-Martin for 101st Homecoming game

Eastern hosts UT-Martin for 101st Homecoming game
Alexander Hollins (15) was named to the All-Ohio Valley Conference first team. (photo courtesy of EIUPanthers.com)

Kim Dameron and Jason Simpson view their teams in a similar fashion. Unfortunately, that fashion is as welcome as an '80s wedding ensemble.

"I see them a little bit like us in the fact that we're kind of in unfamiliar territory as far as our record is concerned right now," Dameron said. "We both played a tough early schedule and we've both lost a couple of early conference games and come up with one win."

Simpson added, "They're kind of like us. They could have won multiple game this year and be in a different situation, so it's two teams that are desperate, trying to get a win."

Dameron's Eastern Illinois Panthers (1-6 overall, 1-3 in the Ohio Valley Conference) host Simpson's UT-Martin Skyhawks (1-5, 1-2) Saturday at O'Brien Field in Charleston. The game also marks Eastern's 101st Homecoming. 

"It's going to be two teams that are wounded and two teams that are going to have to play basically for pride, for each," Dameron said.

This too shall pass

EIU quarterback Jonathan Brantley set the Ohio Valley Conference record for consecutive passes without an interception as he went 28-of-39 at Jacksonville State last week.  Brantley has a streak of 213 straight passes without an interception.  The previous OVC record was 207 by Casey Brockman of Murray State set in 2012.

National leader

EIU receiver Alexander Hollins caught his 12th touchdown pass of the season at Jacksonville State. The senior leads the FCS in touchdown receptions.  He is now tied for seventh on the EIU single season touchdowns list with Adam Drake and Erik Lora.  Hollins has now caught at least one touchdown in five straight games.

Three key matchups

  1. EIU front seven vs. UTM offensive line: The Panthers must control the line of scrimmage. EIU is giving up 233.1 yards per game (a 5.5 per-carry average). 
  2. UTM linebackers vs. EIU offense: Dameron talked of his admiration for the Skyhawks' LBs Kevin Prather and James Gilleylen in his weekly media address. Meanwhile, Eastern's run game was non-existent at Jacksonville State as the Panthers rushed for 15 yards on 19 carries.  QB Johnathan Brantley was the leading rusher with 18 yards on 10 carries. Robert Columbus was the only EIU running back of three that played that finished with positive yards in the game (+1).
  3. Tackling: Missed tackles have haunted EIU all season. Though Dameron has seen improvement in recent weeks, the Panthers can't give up additional yards after contact.

The game

University of Tennessee-Martin (1-5) at Eastern Illinois (1-6) at O'Brien Field in Charleston, 2 p.m. Saturday. Game will air on ESPN3.


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