Eastern Illinois Panthers postseason capsule

Linebacker Jason Johnson (8) led the OVC in total tackles. (Photo by EIUPanthers.com)

Head Coach:  Adam Cushing

Overall Record:  1-10

Ohio Valley Conference Record:  1-5

Biggest Win:  EIU forced four Tennessee Tech turnovers leading to a 28-14 victory. The biggest came when safety Bryce Dewberry scooped up a fumble and raced a school-record 90 yards for a tide-turning touchdown.

Most Frustrating Loss: The Panthers led eventual conference champion UT Martin 17-14 at halftime only to see the Skyhawks shut them out in the second half and pull away for a 28-17 win.

Telling stat: EIU is 1-11 at home in the last three seasons (including the conference-only spring schedule).

Returning strengths for 2022:  Eastern returns experience on a solid defense led by the OVC’s top two tacklers in linebacker Jason Johnson and Colin Bohanek. Defensive end Jordan Miles, defensive tackle Tim Varga and safety Jordan Vincent were All-OVC second teamers. Defensive back Russell Dandy made the all-league newcomer team.

When not sidelined by injuries, Isaiah Hill starred on offense. The receiver enters his senior season with a team-high 39 catches for 493 yards and two touchdowns in just five games. Hill was named All-OVC second team.

Emerging Star:  Bohanek, the Marist High school graduate, didn’t make all-conference but those accolades seem likely in the future for the sophomore-to-be. Bohanek, who sealed the Panthers’ lone spring season win with an interception, has a real nose for the ball.

Biggest Shoes to Fill: The quarterback position. For a school that has produced Jeff Christensen, Sean Payton, Tony Romo and Jimmy Garoppolo, EIU needs consistency more than ever at QB. Freshman Otto Kuhns, who started the majority of fall games, has entered the transfer portal. Fellow freshman Zach Weir will likely be joined by transfers as eyes focus on ’22.

New Year’s Wish List:  The Panthers find more playmakers on offense. True, EIU suffered injuries to numerous key offensive players, yet the Panthers struggled mightily to gain yardage and put points on the board much of the season.

Next Up:  Barry Bottino explores Five Burning Questions that face EIU football for 2022.

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