Southeast Missouri State's offense came alive toward the end of the year.
If that had happened earlier, the Redhawks might have been looking at a much better season.
The Redhawks' offense put together its second straight strong performance to finish the campaign during Saturday's 42-24 loss to visiting Southern Illinois.
Southeast's offense gained 344 yards and put up 17 points against the nation's top-ranked Division I-AA team. The Redhawks' defense also accounted for a touchdown.
That came after the Redhawks exploded for 493 yards during the previous week's 49-13 rout of Ohio Valley Conference rival Murray State.
Before the Murray contest, which accounted for Southeast's lone OVC win, the Redhawks averaged less than 14 points in their first seven conference games.
"We started clicking," sophomore quarterback Matt Scheible said after the Redhawks ended the season 2-9.
Asked if more victories would have been forthcoming if the offense had clicked earlier in the year, Scheible said, "There's no telling."
Junior tailback Henry Harris, who rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries to finish with a team-high 720 yards, said it does no good to think about what might have been.
"You can't go by regrets," said Harris, who paced Southeast with seven touchdowns this season. "We learned from earlier in the year. We just started putting it together."
Scheible, who had something of an up-and-down rookie season in his first year as Southeast's full-time starter, was solid down the stretch, which he hopes bodes well for next year.
Scheible completed 10 of 18 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. A few of his passes were dropped. Scheible also rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries.
After throwing 13 interceptions in the first eight games, Scheible did not have a pick in the final three contests. Before that stretch, Scheible had only one other interception-free game, that being the season opener against NAIA Quincy.
"I feel like the last few weeks I started taking care of the ball better," said Scheible, who passed for 1,596 yards and 11 touchdowns while finishing as Southeast's No. 2 rusher with 487 yards. "I was turning the ball over way too much.
"I feel confident going into next year."
Harris, among numerous key offensive contributors eligible to return next season, said he feels the same way.
"But we have to get better [in the offseason]," he said.
Southeast coach Tony Samuel said Scheible's maturation has been evident over the past few games.
"You can see him coming. I almost wish he had a couple more games," Samuel said. "I think Scheible's right on the edge of breaking out and I think we're right on the edge of breaking out."
Junior wide receiver Miles Edwards, who caught both of Scheible's touchdown passes after missing most of the previous several games with an injury, believes the Redhawks can turn around things next year.
"We've got all the pieces," Edwards said. "We just have to put it together."
* Junior linebacker Joshua Jackson, who came on strong down the stretch, led Southeast in tackles Saturday with 10. Junior safety Bryan Blanfort followed with nine.
Senior linebacker Marvin Anderson recovered a fumble.