Redhawks shoot for two more wins

Tuesday, November 8, 2005

Southeast will try to match last year's 3-8 record.

Their hopes of a four-game winning streak to end the season dashed, Southeast Missouri State's Redhawks will instead now have to focus on a more modest goal.

With two games remaining -- Saturday's home finale against Tennessee State and Nov. 19 at Tennessee Tech -- the Redhawks need two victories to simply match last year's records of 3-8 overall and 3-5 in the Ohio Valley Conference.

"It's disappointing that we can't win the last four, but now we'll shoot for the last two," senior defensive end Justin Komondoreas said.

The Redhawks (1-8, 1-5 OVC) could not hold a 21-3 halftime lead at Tennessee-Martin on Saturday as the Skyhawks rallied to win 24-21.

But Komondoreas, who leads the OVC with 6.5 quarterback sacks and is tied for first with 11.5 tackles for loss, said he doesn't expect the setback to linger.

"It was a tough loss, but we've got two games left, and we have to bounce back," Komondoreas said. "We're not going to give up."

Speaking at his weekly media conference Monday, Southeast coach Tim Billings said he believes the Redhawks will remain motivated enough to have a chance at ending the season on a positive note.

"I hope so," Billings said. "Hopefully we'll play well."

Even though both Tennessee State (2-7, 1-4) and Tennessee Tech (3-6, 2-4) rank with Southeast as teams mired toward the bottom of the conference standings, Billings knows beating either one will be difficult.

Saturday's defeat at Tennessee-Martin was an example, according to Billings, about a team lacking confidence not being able to find a way to win a close game.

"Those games, where we have a lead, we have to find a way to win. Good football teams find a way to win those games," Billings said. "When you're like us, you don't have a lot of confidence. Every game will be tough."

Even though Tennessee State is also struggling, the Tigers have the OVC's top-ranked defense, allowing an average of just 318.3 yards per game.

But a dismal offense -- the Tigers are last in the conference with 277.4 yards and 12.4 points per game -- has hamstrung Tennessee State.

"We're going to have to play really well to beat them," Billings said.

Two players honored

Despite the loss to Tennessee-Martin, two Southeast players were honored by the OVC as junior linebacker Seth Harrell was named the league's defensive player of the week and junior punter David Simonhoff won special teams player of the week.

Harrell, a Jackson High School product, had 18 tackles against the Skyhawks, 14 of them unassisted. His 18 tackles are the most by an OVC defender this season.

Harrell is tied for third on the team with 49 tackles. He also has two sacks, one interception and one fumble recovery.

Simonhoff averaged 45.7 yards on seven punts Saturday. He had three punts of over 50 yards, including a long of 60, as he won the special teams player of the week award for the second time this year.

An All-American last season, when he set school and OVC records by averaging 46 yards per punt, Simonhoff again leads the league this year with a 42.4-yard average that ranks seventh nationally.

Defensive coach returns

Southeast defensive coordinator Damon Bradford has concluded his active duty with the Tennessee National Guard in Iraq and will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game against Tennessee State.

Bradford, a first lieutenant and executive officer of the 278 Armored Calvary Regiment, spent nearly 1 1/2 years in Iraq.

Bradford joined the Southeast coaching staff prior to the start of spring drills in 2004 and was called to active duty in the summer of 2004.

Billings said Bradford probably won't be involved much with the season's final two games, but he will be heavily involved with the offseason program as he resumes his defensive coordinator duties.

"We're real excited to have him back in the program," Billings said. "He brings a lot other than just being a good football coach."

Ballatore likely done

Junior quarterback Kevin Ballatore, who suffered a broken foot while making his first Southeast start against Jacksonville State on Sept. 24 and has been out since then, will likely not play any more this year.

It was originally thought that Ballatore, injured during the season's fourth game, would be back by now.

"He's still limping around," Billings said. "If he was able to play, we'd play him some, but right now I don't see it."

The injury should not affect Ballatore for next season.

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