Upset of TSU provides big boost for Redhawks

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Two days later, Southeast Missouri State coach Tony Samuel still seemed pretty fired up about the Redhawks' win over a nationally ranked team.

But Samuel emphasized at his weekly media briefing Monday that the Redhawks don't have time to rest on their laurels after one of the program's biggest victories since moving to Division I-AA in 1991.

Not with defending Ohio Valley Conference champion Eastern Kentucky coming to town Saturday.

"It's a great feeling any time you get those types of wins," Samuel said of Saturday's 27-20 overtime decision over visiting Tennessee State. "But we can't get caught up in too many things.

"You've got a great team coming in here."

Samuel never thought his players lacked confidence, even after Southeast lost its first three OVC games, with two of the defeats by a total of five points.

"I've not seen any kid back down," Samuel said. "They've been playing hard."

But Samuel acknowledged that the type of victory Southeast pulled off Saturday certainly could boost the Redhawks' confidence.

"It's good for them," he said. "It's good to have the confidence and all that, but there are a lot of things we have to get better at."

Saturday's triumph lifted the Redhawks (3-5, 1-3) into a tie for sixth place in the nine-team OVC.

The Redhawks overcame another slow start as they wiped out a 17-3 halftime deficit by holding the potent Tigers to three points in the second half and scoreless in overtime.

Southeast still has not scored a first-quarter point this season. The Redhawks have been outscored 76-0 during that period and 163-47 in the first half.

The Redhawks have trailed at halftime in seven of their eight games, with the other contest being tied.

"We have to get started in the first half," senior wide receiver Mike Williamson said following Saturday's game.

Southeast struggled offensively for much of the contest, being outgained 450 to 293 in total yardage.

But the Redhawks put up 210 yards in the second half and overtime, while Southeast's defense held TSU to 170 yards during that stretch.

Southeast forced overtime by marching for a field goal as time expired after taking possession of the football with just 21 seconds remaining.

"We weren't consistent [offensively], but when the time came, obviously that two-minute drill was excellent," Samuel said.

Southeast's defense, while giving up plenty of yards, came up with three interceptions to help thwart TSU drives.

The bottom line is that the Redhawks mustered enough crucial plays on offense, defense and special teams to prevail.

"In the second half I thought a lot of people came up and made some big plays," Samuel said.

The Redhawks will have to come up with more big plays in order to notch another upset victory.

Eastern Kentucky (5-3, 4-1) is in second place in the OVC, but tied for first on the loss side. The Colonels have won four straight games, all inside the conference.

The Colonels, who did not lose an OVC game last year, have posted 30 consecutive winning seasons. That's the longest active streak in Division I-AA and only one Division I-A program -- Florida State -- has a longer streak.

Stauffer, Spada honored

Two of Southeast's stars in Saturday's victory have been honored by the OVC.

Senior linebacker Nick Stauffer is the OVC defensive player of the week and junior punter/kicker Doug Spada is the OVC specialist of the week.

Stauffer had a career-high 21 tackles and his first career interception, returning it 21 yards late in the third quarter to set up Southeast's first touchdown.

Stauffer ranks sixth nationally and second in the OVC with an average of 12.1 tackles per game. He has 97 tackles.

Spada kicked a 37-yard field goal on the final play of regulation to force overtime. He also booted a 26-yard field goal and averaged 40 yards per punt, with one downed at the TSU 1-yard line.

Spada ranks third nationally and leads the OVC with an average of 44.7 yards per punt.

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