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Redhawks cough up football, distinction in shutout
Southeast became the last NCAA Division I team to commit a turnover this season.
Not only did Southeast Missouri State lose at Eastern Illinois 21-0 Saturday afternoon, the Redhawks' turnover-free streak finally came to an end.
Entering play over the weekend, Southeast was the only NCAA Division I football team -- I-A or I-AA -- to have not committed a turnover all season.
But that impressive accomplishment was not extended to a fifth game. Against the defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Panthers (3-3, 2-0 OVC), Southeast (3-2, 1-2) had three turnovers on two interceptions and a lost fumble.
Southeast's initial turnover under first-year coach Tony Samuel occurred on the final play of the opening quarter when fullback Clint Jones lost a fumble at his own 13-yard line.
Fortunately for the Redhawks, EIU could not capitalize on the miscue as Southeast's defense held and the Panthers missed a short field goal, temporarily keeping the Redhawks behind 7-0.
The Redhawks' two quarterbacks each threw an interception. Starter Kevin Ballatore was picked off early in the fourth quarter, and backup Markus Mosley tossed a pick in the game's final minute. EIU also did not score after either of those mistakes.
For Ballatore, it was the first interception of his Southeast career. He was not picked off last year after transferring in from junior college.
Southeast still might continue to lead the nation in turnover margin when the NCAA statistics are released today. After EIU committed two turnovers -- both lost fumbles -- Southeast has 13 takeaways on the season.
While Southeast's streak without a turnover ended, EIU extended a streak of its own regarding turnovers.
The Panthers have now forced and recovered at least one fumble in 18 straight games. They entered Saturday's contest fourth nationally in takeaways with 13.
Two quarterbacks again
For the second straight game, Southeast used two quarterbacks by design, although Mosley saw less action than he had the previous week against Samford.
Neither, however, had much success. Both faced enormous pressure from EIU's defense, which was credited with three sacks while compiling countless hurries and hits on the pair.
Ballatore completed four of 12 passes for 10 yards. Mosley, who played a series early in the game and then did not enter again until the final series -- when he threw his interception -- completed one of four passes for 14 yards.
Of the Redhawks' season-low 101 total yards, 77 came on the ground, led by tailback John Radney with 56 yards on 16 carries.
Tailback Tim Holloman, Southeast's leading rusher on the season prior to Saturday despite missing last week's game because of an ankle injury, saw action on only a few plays early in the second half. He carried twice for eight yards.
"He can go straight ahead good, but he can't make cuts," said Samuel, who suggested that Holloman will probably be held out of Saturday's game at Division I-A Arkansas so he can be as healthy as possible for the remainder of the Ohio Valley Conference schedule.
According to unofficial statistics, linebacker Adam Casper led Southeast with 12.5 tackles. He also recovered a fumble, as did safety Anthony Lumpkin.
End Edgar Jones had another quarterback sack, giving him nine on the season. He entered the contest leading the nation.