For each big play that Eastern Illinois enjoyed Saturday at Southeast Missouri, the Redhawks had answers.
In the Panthers’ 2018 season finale, FCS playoff-bound SEMO used its powerful offense to put stubborn EIU away, 38-32.
Eastern (3-8) closed within six points on three different occasions, but couldn’t overcome the Redhawks (8-3).
Perhaps the biggest answer came with 6:52 left in the game when Alexander Hollins caught a seven-yard TD pass for EIU, cutting the Redhawks’ lead to 30-24. On the ensuing kickoff, SEMO’s Zion Custis returned the ball 97 yards to deflate Eastern’s upset bid.
The Panthers closed the gap to 38-32 on Aaron Gooch’s 8-yard scoring pass and a two-point conversion with 34 seconds remaining in the game, but an onside kick failed.
Despite being outgained 494 yards to 371, SEMO did not commit a turnover and was aided by junior quarterback Daniel Santacaterina’s efficiency, connecting on 30 of 38 passing attempts.
Eastern threw two interceptions, one of which led to a SEMO touchdown.
5 Stats That Stood Out
0 – Sacks for Eastern in the loss. EIU’s defense finished with 10 sacks in 11 games this season.
3-8 – Final record for EIU this fall, its worst since going 2-9 in 2010 and 2011.
11 – Game-high receptions for EIU senior WR Aaron Gooch. He had 81 yards and a touchdown. Gooch moved into Eastern’s top 10 for career receptions.
78.9 – Completion percentage for SEMO quarterback Daniel Santacaterina, who was 30-for-38 passing.
105 – Rushing yards for EIU senior RB Isaiah Johnson, his third game in a row of more than 100 yards.
Eastern Illinois opens the 2019 season at Chattanooga on Aug. 31.