ATHENS, Ohio --Southeast Missouri State University coach Tim Billings made good on his promise to play all three quarterbacks during Thursday night's season opener at Division I-A Ohio.
All three saw action in the first half, although incumbent starter Jack Tomco played the entire second half.
The trio met with varied results during the Indians' 17-3 loss.
As expected -- even though Billings made no official announcement before Thursday -- Tomco, who set nine school records and passed for more than 3,000 yards last year, began the game under center.
Tomco had his problems in the first half, although he never was able to cut loose as the Indians' normally wide-open offense primarily kept the ball on the ground, something that Billings promised Southeast would do more of this year.
Tomco played only the first quarter, completing one of five passes -- a 62-yarder to David Taufoou -- with one interception.
With Southeast trailing 17-3 at halftime and forced to throw more in the second half, Tomco cut loose 26 times and completed 12, for 140 yards. He finished 13 of 31 for 202 yards, with two interceptions.
"This wasn't one of my better games," Tomco said.
Jeromy McDowell came in at quarterback to start the second quarter and played several series. He completed three of six passes for 20 yards.
Andrew Goodenough played the final two series of the second period. He was two of four for 11 yards, with one interception.
"We're trying to find out which one is going to lead this football team," Billings said. "We scored three points, so I don't think any of them graded out well. As of now, the verdict's still out.
"We're too talented on offense to score three points."
Billings did not say if he planned to play all three quarterbacks again during the Indians' second game, the Sept. 6 home opener against Southern Illinois.
Receiving corps thin
Southeast's wide receiver group was hit hard after last season as All-American Willie Ponder and Tarik Simpson both completed their eligibility.
But the Indians' receiving corps was even more shorthanded Thursday when Bill Coleman -- the squad's second-leading receiver from a year ago -- did not make the trip as he waits for eligibility issues to be cleared.
Southeast coaches expect Coleman to be certified as eligible by the NCAA in the next few days, and he should be in uniform against Southern Illinois.
Neither offense glowed, with Southeast gaining 300 total yards to 308 for Ohio. The Indians managed just 67 rushing yards on 32 attempts, counting sacks.
Corey Kinsey, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year, gained just 42 on 20 carries. Scheduled to start, he did not play in the first quarter as a disciplinary measure for violating unspecified team rules. He entered the contest early in the second period.
Taufoou, who started in place of Kinsey, rushed for 31 yards on six carries as he averaged 5.2 yards per attempt.
Chris NesSmith was Southeast's leading receiver with six catches for 53 yards. Ray Goodson caught three passes for 49 yards, including a dazzling 22-yard grab that almost led to an Indian touchdown.
Defensively, linebacker O.J. Turner was credited with nine tackles, according to unofficial press box statistics. End Adam Jones and safety Anthony Lumpkin both had eight tackles.
Linebacker Ricky Farmer recovered two fumbles while Lumpkin and cornerback Dimitri Patterson each recovered one.