Southeast's upset bid dies early
Sunday, October 14, 2007
The defense surrendered 501 yards to the Colonels.
RICHMOND, Ky. -- Southeast Missouri State stunned Eastern Kentucky with an early haymaker.
But the Colonels landed most of the big shots Saturday as they rolled to a somewhat predictable 44-17 win.
EKU, ranked 23rd nationally in Division I-AA, improved to 5-2 overall and 4-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Southeast (2-4, 0-3), playing its first game without rushing leader Timmy Holloman, suffered its third straight loss.
Holloman, second in the OVC and eighth nationally in rushing, was declared ineligible Tuesday after being found in violation of unspecified NCAA regulations.
Even with Holloman, the Redhawks would have been underdogs on the road against the OVC's first-place team.
Without the junior tailback, who had been their only consistent offensive threat this year, the Redhawks faced seemingly insurmountable odds.
Southeast tried to defy them early by grabbing a 7-0 lead in the opening four minutes, but the Colonels had their way for the remainder of the contest.
"We came out strong. We ran the ball pretty well and we punched them in the mouth right out of the gate," senior offensive tackle Francisco Perez said. "But we shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and they're a good team."
Southeast threw the first punch as true freshman Zach Buck partially blocked a punt, which traveled 13 yards and gave the Redhawks possession at their 47.
On the first play after the punt, junior quarterback Victor Anderson raced 37 yards on what looked like a designed draw.
True freshman tailback Mike Jones, starting in place of Holloman, gained 14 yards on the next play, then Anderson sneaked over from 2 yards out for the touchdown.
The Redhawks covered 53 yards and were ahead 7-0 just 3 minutes, 23 seconds into the contest after just three plays.
"We came out really hard and strong," junior wide receiver Mike Williamson said. "In the first half, we were really in the game."
But EKU junior quarterback Allan Holland helped take the Redhawks out of the game.
A week after passing for a career-high 321 yards -- which was also an OVC high this season -- during a win at two-time defending conference champion Eastern Illinois, Holland topped that.
Holland, who began his career at Division I-A Wake Forest, threw for 361 yards, 260 coming in the first half, which ended with the Colonels ahead 24-7.
Holland, who completed 23-of-39, particularly burned the Redhawks with big pass plays after buying time by scrambling.
On two first-half touchdown drives, Holland completed passes of 57 and 48 yards. On a first-half march that ended with a field goal, he completed a 38-yard pass.
"Those big plays hurt," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said. "He's a scrambling quarterback. He knows how to avoid pressure. They did a good job."
EKU's first touchdown, which tied things 7-7 midway through the first quarter, was set up by a Jones fumble inside his own 10-yard line.
But the Colonels piled up big yardage on their next five scoring drives -- four touchdowns and a field goal -- engineered by Holland.
Those marches covered 80, 82, 61, 64 and 85 yards, with the majority coming through the air.
A 28-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Doug Spada with 5:31 left in the third quarter pulled Southeast within 24-10, but EKU answered right back to go ahead 31-10 and later led 37-10.
"We had some turnovers, and some deep balls that we didn't pull in, one by me," Williamson said. "But they're a good team. They're not 4-0 in the conference for no reason. I wouldn't be surprised if they won the conference."
The teams traded touchdowns in the closing minutes with mostly backups on the field.
EKU finished with 501 yards of offense compared to 296 for Southeast.
The Colonels also continued to dominate the turnover battle.
EKU entered play ranked second nationally with a plus-12 turnover margin, having forced 17 turnovers while committing five.
Against Southeast, EKU won the turnover battle 3-0.
"They're a really good team," Spada said.
Southeast hopes to still prove itself a good team, although the Redhawks are battling injury problems and now the loss of Holloman.
"We're a family and we just have to stick together as a team," Perez said.