Redhawks get off to a flying start

Friday, September 4, 2009 ~ Updated 1:07 AM
Redhawks receivers Miles Edwards, left, and Walter Peoples celebrate Peoples' touchdown catch Thursday during the season opener at Houck Stadium. (Kit Doyle)

Southeast built a 58-0 lead by halftime against the NAIA team

The Southeast Missouri State football team could not have scripted a better opening performance.

Quincy University felt the Redhawks' wrath Thursday night.

Southeast built an improbable 58-0 halftime lead and coasted to a 72-3 victory, a modern-day school record for most points in a game.

"The beginning of that game had to be written out," sophomore quarterback Matt Scheible said.

The Redhawks scored on all seven of their first-half offensive possessions -- six touchdowns and a field goal -- while adding TDs on defense and special teams.

It made for a fun-filled night for not only the Redhawks but the announced Houck Stadium crowd of 6,105.

"It's a great way for us to start the season," senior fullback Nick Grassi said.

The NAIA Hawks were riding high after their surprise win over Division I-AA Indiana State last week.

Southeast also competes in Division I-AA, but the Redhawks ended early any upset hopes the Hawks might have had by piling up a 21-0 lead in less than five minutes.

"We had heard some rumors that they thought they were going to come in and beat us," Scheible said.

That never came close to happening as Southeast posted a modern-day record for not only points in a game but also largest margin of victory.

Only the 1916 team scored more points or won by a wider margin as that outfit beat Mayfield College 111-0 and a squad called the De Soto Athletic Club 107-0.

"What'd they play, eight man or something back then," joked senior wide receiver Walter Peoples. "I heard we broke a school record. It's great."

Sophomore Jacob McKinley, who set a school record for kickoff return yardage last year, brought back the opening kickoff 80 yards to the Quincy 11.

Junior tailback Henry Harris scored the first of his three rushing touchdowns, from 2 yards out, and Southeast was off and running.

"Special teams can make or break you," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said.

Junior linebacker Tyler Epstein, a Northern Iowa transfer making his Southeast debut, intercepted a tipped pass and returned it 24 yards for a score less than a minute after Harris' touchdown.

"It was tipped by [junior defensive tackle] Errick Aliifua and I was there to make the play," Epstein said. "It was a really good feeling.

"It's all about momentum. Jacob started it with that long return."

Special teams then took over again as junior linebacker Andrew Adams blocked a punt deep in Quincy territory and true freshman safety Tylor Brock recovered in the end zone for a 21-0 lead just 4 minutes, 25 seconds into the game.

"I saw the ball and just got on it," Brock said.

Things only got worse for Quincy the rest of the half as Southeast put up 37 more points, dominating both offensively and defensively.

Scheible threw two touchdown passes, a 32-yarder to sophomore Chantae Ahamefule and a 17-yarder to Peoples, and ran for a 9-yard TD.

Harris scored twice more, from 3 yards and 14 yards, and senior Doug Spada added a 20-yard field goal.

"Our big focus was to execute and do everything right," Harris said. "We just wanted to come out and play hard."

Harris rushed for 88 yards on 11 carries, all in the first half.

"It feels good, but I have to give all the praise to the offensive line," Harris said.

Scheible also was done at halftime, along with most of the other starters. Scheible stayed in long enough to complete 11 of 18 passes for 222 yards.

"Matt's looking really great, Henry, the receivers, the offensive line is looking really good, and the defense did a great job" said Peoples, who led Southeast receivers by catching five passes.

Even with mostly backups on the field, the Redhawks scored two more second-half touchdowns -- their only other offensive possession of the half was a final play to run out the clock -- while holding Quincy to a 19-yard field goal.

Two reserve tailbacks joined Epstein and Brock in recording their first Southeast touchdowns as redshirt freshman Renard Celestin scored on a 31-yard run and sophomore Trey Porter went over from 12 yards out.

Celestin was Southeast's second-leading rusher with 70 yards on eight carries.

"I'm sure just about everybody played other than the guys you hope to redshirt," Samuel said.

The Redhawks piled up 512 yards, limited Quincy to 220 yards and never punted.

"No way I could have been able to tell you that," Samuel said when asked if he expected such a lopsided game.

Harris said he also didn't see it coming, although he added that it just might make long-suffering Southeast fans take notice.

"Nobody's seen it around here," Harris said with a smile.

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