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Southeast faces task of caging Tigers' Anthony
The Tennessee State running back ranks second on the OVC career rushing list.
By Marty Mishow ~ Southeast Missourian
One week after allowing nearly 300 yards to a freshman tailback, Southeast Missouri State University must now try to contain the nation's third-leading Division I-AA rusher.
Tennessee State All-American Charles Anthony figures to present quite a few problems for Southeast tonight when the squads square off at 7 p.m. at the Coliseum in Nashville, Tenn.
Southeast (2-6, 2-3 Ohio Valley Conference) will be shooting for its second straight victory and its first road win of the season. TSU (3-5, 1-3) will be looking to snap a five-game losing streak.
"It hasn't been the kind of season we wanted, but it's important we finish strong and take some momentum into next year," Southeast coach Tim Billings said.
If Southeast is going to build on last week's 35-7 triumph over Tennessee-Martin, slowing down Anthony at least a little bit figures to be imperative.
Tennessee-Martin freshman Donald Chapman piled up 272 yards against Southeast, but Southeast's defense was able to hold the Skyhawks to a single touchdown, and that came on a one-yard drive after a blocked punt.
As good as Chapman looked against Southeast, Billings knows Anthony is considerably better. The 5-foot-10, 195-pound senior leads the OVC with 1,229 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry.
"He's a great player, he really is. We'll have to try to slow him down," Billings said. "After allowing Chapman 272 yards, I think they'll give it to Anthony a lot. No question, he's the best running back in the conference."
Eastern Illinois had plenty of success against Anthony during a 34-24 victory last week, limiting him to 73 yards. That performance marked just the second time Anthony has been held under 100 yards this season, and only the third time in his last 20 games. He ranks second on the OVC's career rushing list with 4,574 yards.
"Eastern Illinois put a lot of people in the box, but teams have been doing that all year," TSU coach James Reese said. "I expect SEMO to do that."
Especially because the Tigers have had problems at quarterback this year. Starter Riley Walker was knocked out early against Eastern Illinois with a knee injury and won't play tonight. Former starter Bryson Rosser will get the nod against Southeast. He has completed just 48.6 percent of his passes for 782 yards.
"Our passing game has been inconsistent and we're real young on the defensive side of the ball, too," said Reese in explaining his team's struggles this year.
Injuries have also played a major role in the struggles for both squads. While Southeast has been hampered all year -- two more players, defensive ends Cal Jillson and Edgar Jones, went down against Tennessee-Martin and won't play against TSU -- the Tigers could be without as many as eight starters tonight.
The Tigers will have a definite home-field advantage tonight as a crowd of more than 25,000 is expected on homecoming. TSU plays its home games in the Tennessee Titans' stadium.
"They'll have a great crowd," Billings said. "The key for us is to play well early and take the crowd out of the game."
And if that happens, Billings believes Southeast will have a legitimate shot at its second straight victory.
"Winning this game would be a big boost for us, especially going into the last two games of the year," Billings said.