Peterson, Tuineau turn in memorable final performances

Sunday, November 18, 2007
Redhawks running back Elton Peterson ran through Jacksonville State defender C.J. White's tackle Saturday at Houck Stadium. (Kit Doyle)

Southeast's running BACK topped 100 yards in his last game.

It took Elton Peterson and Joseph Tuineau five years to reach significant individual milestones.

The two Southeast Missouri State football players nearly ran out of time, but they finally made it during their last collegiate games.

Peterson, a senior tailback, broke 100 yards for the first time at Southeast, while senior tight end Tuineau finally scored a touchdown.

Both were elated to achieve those accomplishments, but they appeared much more satisfied for the Redhawks after Southeast ended a seven-game losing streak with a 32-25 win over Jacksonville State.

Southeast assistant coach Kenny Wilhite, left, congratulated defensive back Vincent Anderson after an interception Saturday. (MIKE WILLIAMSON ~ Special to the Southeast Missourian)

"We just had a lot of team bonding this week and it feels real good to win," said Peterson following Saturday's season finale at Houck Stadium.

Peterson, who primarily has been a backup during his Southeast days, entered his last game with 226 yards rushing this season and barely 500 yards during his career.

But the diminutive Peterson -- who packs a solid 170 pounds on his 5-foot-6 frame -- was the Redhawks' workhorse Saturday, rushing for 120 yards on 33 carries.

Peterson, a Florida native, was surprised to learn that he had eclipsed the 100-yard mark for the first time. He grinned upon hearing the news.

"Oh really? I didn't even know that," said Peterson, who has been a solid kick returner during his Southeast career. "I just thank the Lord."

Peterson said he is grateful that he even was allowed to play this year.

It was thought that Peterson had completed his eligibility following last season, but he and the university petitioned the NCAA for an additional year, since he appeared only briefly in two games as a freshman in 2003.

The NCAA granted an extra year, basically ruling that his 2003 campaign would be used as a redshirt year, although he had to sit out the first two games of this season.

"I just feel really blessed that I was able to play this year," Peterson said.

Said Southeast coach Tony Samuel: "That's a great story about Elton. He stuck with it and got that year back and he made the most of it."

As for Tuineau, the 6-8, 280-pound native of New Zealand, has been a key player for the Redhawks after redshirting in 2003.

But despite entering Saturday's finale with 59 career receptions, he never had reached the end zone.

That all changed late in the third quarter when he caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Houston Lillard.

He scored again a short time later, on a 2-point conversion pass from Lillard early in the fourth quarter that tied the contest 25-25.

"There's nothing better than getting your first touchdown in the last game, and then getting a 2-pointer," Tuineau said. "Everybody was so happy for me [after the touchdown], but all I kept saying was, 'Let's get the win.'"

Added Tuineau, who because of his size and athleticism figures to get a shot at the NFL: "The whole team just came together today. It was a great feeling."

Andersons impressive

Although Samuel acknowledges that they still have a lot to learn about playing defense, the Anderson twins appear to have made a smooth transition to safety.

Junior Vincent Anderson played the first five games of the season at wide receiver before switching to defense.

Fellow junior -- and junior college transfer -- Victor Anderson played the first seven games at quarterback before making the move.

Last week at Missouri State, Victor scored his first defensive touchdown when he tipped a lateral pass to himself and ran 45 yards for a touchdown. It was technically ruled a fumble recovery for Victor, his first at Southeast.

Saturday, Vincent got into the act, intercepting his first collegiate pass and recovering his first fumble.

Vincent's interception and 26-yard return early in the fourth quarter set up Southeast's winning score.

On the fumble recovery, Victor's hit on a running back caused the ball to break free and Vincent pounced on it.

Despite only playing six games on defense, Vincent finished the year as Southeast's sixth-leading tackler with 42 stops.

"They still have a long way to go, but they've come a long way," said Samuel, who will have the Andersons as key members of Southeast's defense from the start next season.

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