Even though Southeast Missouri State University's Indians fell short of their first-ever Ohio Valley Conference title and playoff berth Saturday, no way were they about to label the season a failure.
Not after overcoming an 0-5 start -- and a slew of injuries to key players -- to win five of their final seven games and put themselves in position to make school history.
"This game just breaks your heart," said junior cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who intercepted his sixth pass of the season during the Indians' 22-17 loss to Jacksonville State. "But by no means am I disappointed in this team.
"We started out 0-5 and we had a lot of key injuries, but a lot of kids stepped up."
Senior defensive end Ryan Roth, one of the Indians' most vocal and emotional leaders, was nearly in tears after the game.
"They're a great team, and it was two really good teams going back and forth," Roth said. "It hurts to lose, but I'm really proud of this team, to get to this point after the way we started out and all the injuries we had ... .
"I have to commend the young guys. They could have hung it up at 0-5, but they hung with us and we almost did it."
Although the Indians lose some key seniors, only six started Saturday, meaning the majority of their lineup will return next year. Southeast also will get back several injured regulars who missed some or most of the season.
"We have a lot of people back, and hopefully we can take that next step," said junior linebacker O.J. Turner, a Central High School product.
Added Patterson, "We've got a lot of guys coming back and the future still looks bright. We just have to get over the hump."
Said Southeast coach Tim Billings, "What a great team, having to overcome everything we went through. They've done a great job. We'll miss the seniors, but hopefully the young guys will remember this and we'll take that next step."
Amick has best game after limited 2002 season
Brandon Amick, a senior walk-on from Scott City High School in his second season with the program, became one of the Indians' top receivers this year after seeing little action last season.
He ended his Southeast career with his best performance Saturday, catching seven passes for 156 yards and a touchdown to earn Copi-Rite player of the game honors.
"It feels good to have my last game like this, but it would have been a lot better if we had won," Amick said. "I feel really bad for the seniors who have been around here for a while. I've only been here two years."
Junior quarterback Andrew Goodenough, who took over the starting job late in the season, also had a career game by completing 27 of 45 passes for 407 yards.
Sophomore tailback Jamel Oliver caught seven passes for 51 yards while sophomore receiver Anthony Gilliam had five catches for 76 yards.
Sophomore receiver T.J. Milcic -- who came on late in the year after Chris NesSmith went down with an injury -- caught four passes for 55 yards and junior tight end Ray Goodson from Jackson High School finished a monster season by catching three passes for 37 yards. Goodson led the Indians with 66 receptions.
Oliver rushed for 73 yards on 16 carries.
Defensively, senior linebacker Ricky Farmer was credited with eight tackles.
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