Numbers are deceptive in Redhawks' latest loss

Monday, September 22, 2008

Often final statistics tell a whole lot about a football game's outcome.

Other times final stats are meaningless.

Count Southeast Missouri State's 45-28 home loss to Missouri State on Saturday night in the second category.

Southeast outgained an opponent for the first time this season, holding a decisive 445 to 314 edge in total yards.

Yet the Redhawks were never really in the game during the second half, thanks to their 21-0 halftime deficit that they could cut no closer than 38-28 in the late going.

In the decisive first half, MSU had a 202 to 127 total yardage advantage, returned one interception for a touchdown and needed to drive only 24 yards for a TD after an interception.

It's a shame the Redhawks -- who suffered four interceptions, with three of them basically handing MSU 21 points -- couldn't have played a turnover-free game like the previous week.

The Redhawks did not commit a turnover during a 29-27 home loss to Tennessee Tech that opened their Ohio Valley Conference schedule.

Had Saturday's contest hung in the balance in the second half, it would have been interesting to see whether Southeast's defense could have stopped the Bears on a consistent basis.

Statistically, Southeast's defense had by far its top performance of the season. The unit allowed a season-low 314 yards -- only 112 in the second half -- and only could be held responsible for giving up two touchdowns and a field goal.

MSU scored two touchdowns on interception returns, one touchdown on a kickoff return and another TD on a 24-yard drive after an interception.

But part of the reason the Bears didn't compile much offensive yardage is because MSU kept scoring with its defense and special teams.

Still, it did appear to be a step in the right direction for a Southeast defense that previously had been gashed for an average of nearly 515 yards a game.

The bottom line is that the Redhawks are 1-3 and the season is fast beginning to look like so many of Southeast's previously futile Division I-AA campaigns.

Any hope the Redhawks have of giving themselves a chance to salvage some respectability out of the season would appear to hinge greatly on Saturday's final nonconference contest at Indiana State.

The Sycamores (0-3) have the nation's longest Division I-AA losing streak, having dropped their last 17 games. They have won just one of their last 42 games.

ISU no doubt ranks among the nation's worst Division I-AA squads -- but Southeast only beat the Sycamores 13-10 last year at Houck Stadium, part of an 0-11 campaign for ISU.

Beat ISU and at least you've got some confidence heading into the final seven games, all OVC matchups, starting with road challenges against preseason favorite Jacksonville State and perennial power Eastern Illinois.

Add to that the restoration of eligibility to star tailback Timmy Holloman for the last seven games and maybe there would be cause for optimism after all.

Lose to the woeful Sycamores and it might be hard to imagine the Redhawks winning more than another game or two -- if that.

Houston Lillard's arrest last week for failure to appear on a charge of indecent exposure was no doubt embarrassing to Southeast's senior quarterback.

Lillard was originally issued the indecent exposure summons -- a misdemeanor -- in early July for public urination in downtown Cape Girardeau.

Lillard was scheduled to appear in court last month to answer to the charge, which had he pled guilty to likely would have resulted in a fine.

After Lillard failed to show up, a warrant was issued for his arrest.

I would hate for people in the community to think poorly of Lillard simply because he made a foolish decision.

Interacting with Lillard the last couple of years, I have known him to be nothing but polite, personable and cordial, and I haven't heard anybody say a bad thing about him.

I'm not going to condone Lillard's actions, but had Lillard simply shown up in court last month, the public and the media would probably have never found out about his original summons.

Lillard has a new court date next month, where he will face charges of indecent exposure and failure to appear, both misdemeanors. I bet he shows up this time.

The OVC recently announced its slate of basketball games that will appear on an ESPN channel during the 2008-09 season.

There will be 14 games that will air, with 12 on ESPNU and two on ESPN2, including the OVC tournament.

Southeast's men are slated for one ESPNU telecast, Feb. 12 at Eastern Kentucky.

Slamfest, Cape Girardeau's popular outdoor basketball tournament, will hold its 17th edition at Indian Park Saturday and Sunday.

Teams interested in participating should call tournament director Stafford Moore Jr. at 573-270-5399.

I was saddened to learn of the death of Raymond "Bob" Schnurbusch, who passed away Saturday at age 83.

I originally got to know The Ole Dutchman -- as everybody knew him -- through his work running the Old Appleton Triathlon, which he founded.

Starting when I began working for the Missourian in 1984, The Ole Dutchman for years cheerfully ambled into the newspaper office either with triathlon information or results.

He always greeted me with that big smile of his, along with his signature hearty laugh.

I know The Ole Dutchman lived a rich and full life, but he will still be missed.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: