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Freshman Holloman puts together breakthrough performance in loss
The running back earned conference honors after posting 251 total yards in Saturday's 33-32 loss to Eastern Kentucky.
To say that Tim Holloman made the most of his most extensive action of the season would be an understatement.
Holloman, Southeast Missouri State's true freshman tailback, had played varied amounts during the Redhawks' first six games.
But Saturday night at Eastern Kentucky, Holloman carried virtually all of the rushing load for Southeast -- and he nearly helped carry the Redhawks to their first win of the season.
Holloman rushed for 155 yards on 31 carries, caught six passes for 95 yards and scored all four of the Redhawks' touchdowns, including a highlight-type 64-yarder after a short reception.
"It felt good to run like that," said the soft-spoken Holloman following the contest. "But it's a shame we didn't win. We played so hard, and then end up losing at the end."
Eastern Kentucky completed a 23-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 1.4 seconds remaining to stun the Redhawks 33-32.
Southeast fell to 0-7 overall and 0-4 in Ohio Valley Conference play.
But Holloman's performance, even coming in a loss, did not go unnoticed by the OVC. On Sunday, the league announced that he is both the conference's offensive player of the week and newcomer of the week.
"He had a tremendous game," Southeast coach Tim Billings said. "That's a really good, fast defense he went up against, and he made a lot of those guys look bad."
Holloman, cutting on a dime and displaying impressive speed, also scored on a 4-yard reception, while running for touchdowns of 16 yards and 1 yard. The latter gave Southeast a 32-27 lead with 4:08 left in the game.
"It's all instinct," Holloman said of his running style.
Holloman entered the contest as Southeast's leading rusher, but with just 130 yards on 37 carries (3.5-yard average) for a team that had struggled all season with its ground game. He had scored one touchdown, and also had caught 18 passes for just a 4.2-yard average.
Trying to ignite its running attack, Southeast -- which normally operates out of a one-back offense -- used the I-formation much of the game Saturday, inserting reserve linebacker Cory Andrade into the fullback position.
"I'm a lot more comfortable running out of that [the I-formation]. I ran it in high school," Holloman said.
Holloman, who appears fairly slight at 6 feet and 180 pounds, rushed for nearly 1,700 yards last season as a senior at Edgewater High School in Orlando, Fla.
Even though Southeast coaches felt running back was among the Redhawks' deepest positions this year, Holloman opened enough eyes during fall practice to warrant some playing time instead of red-shirting.
When starting tailback Austen Collins suffered a season-ending knee injury on the second offensive play of the season opener, it figured that Holloman would receive his share of action.
And with John Radney also missing most of the last several weeks with an injury, even more of the focus has shifted to Holloman.
"I really didn't expect to play this much," Holloman admitted.
Based on Saturday's performance, Holloman probably better get used to a full work load.
"We really didn't expect to play Timmy much this year, if at all, but he's just done so well," Billings said. "He's got the tools to be a great back, one of the best we've had. And he's just going to get bigger, stronger and better."
Not as many mistakes
Southeast entered Saturday's game minus-10 in the takeaway department, having committed 22 turnovers while gaining just 12 turnovers.
In the Redhawks' past three contests -- all OVC games -- they had 13 turnovers compared to just four takeaways, which pretty much negated any chance Southeast had of simply staying close, let alone winning. The Redhawks had suffered all six previous defeats by at least 14 points.
But Saturday, Southeast had its first turnover-free performance of the season, while taking advantage of two EKU turnovers as it built an early 16-0 lead.
"It shows what we can do when we don't turn the ball over," Billings said. "We basically hadn't even given ourselves a chance because of all the turnovers."
But despite the absence of turnovers, it's not like the Redhawks didn't make their share of mistakes, particularly in the area of penalties.
Southeast, the most penalized team in the OVC in terms of both number and yardage, was whistled 12 times for 96 yards.
Particularly glaring were 30 yards on two penalties that aided an EKU touchdown drive in the final minute of the first half as the Colonels pulled within 23-13 at halftime.
"We played so well, except for the penalties," Billings said.
Haley has strong game
Billings had been so frustrated with senior quarterback Mike Haley that he replaced him in the fourth quarter during the fifth game of the season -- at Samford -- with true freshman Markus Mosley, and then started Mosley the following week.
But Haley regained his job during practice leading into Saturday's contest, and he came through with his first interception-free performance of the season.
Haley, who entered the contest tied for the OVC interception lead with 11, completed 18 of 27 passes for 237 yards and two touchdowns, both to Holloman.
"Mike had his best game, no doubt," Billings said. "I think the running game helped."
Said Haley, who has started five of the seven games this year: "We got off to a great start, and the running game helped. The biggest thing, we didn't turn the ball over. When we don't, we have a chance to win."
* Safety D'Eldrick Taylor led Southeast in tackles with 10, followed by linebacker Tunde Agboke with nine and safety Mike Miller with eight.
* Defensive end Justin Komondoreas had two sacks, including one for a safety, while defensive end Kyle Hunt had the Redhawks' other sack.
* True freshman safety Kendall Magana, who has seen considerable playing time in recent weeks because of injuries, recorded his first Southeast interception, a diving catch in the end zone that ended an EKU scoring threat in the second quarter.
* Southeast outgained EKU 113-5 in total offense in the first quarter, but the Colonels ended with a 432-398 advantage.