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Sophomores lead Southeast's strong defensive effort
CHARLESTON, Ill. -- Linebacker Darrick Borum had the type of day defensive players dream about.
Safety Tylor Brock had the type of play defenders dream about.
Those sophomores highlighted another strong showing by Southeast Missouri State's' defense, which forced a season-high five turnovers to help key Saturday's 28-13 win at Eastern Illinois.
"As a defense, we don't have a weak link," Borum said.
Borum certainly was no weak link as he had 10 tackles, two quarterback sacks, three tackles for loss, his first collegiate interception, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
"Coach was being real aggressive with his play calling," Borum said.
Borum's first career interception, on the game's opening possession, stopped a promising EIU drive. Borum's 18-yard return to the Panthers' 45-yard line set up Southeast's first touchdown.
Borum seemed to be all over the place the rest of the way.
"He had a great day," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said. "He's a big kid who can run. He's a very good athlete."
Borum, a native of Marion, Ill., came to Southeast as a walk-on. After redshirting in 2008, he played in just three games last season because of injury and made two tackles while recovering a fumble.
After coming off the bench in this year's opener, Borum has started the past four contests. Entering Saturday's game, he was leading the team with two sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery while being tied with three tackles for loss.
"I just try to keep getting better every game," Borum said. "I think we all have a nose for the ball."
Brock showed a nose for the ball when he intercepted a pass and went 48 yards for a touchdown to put Southeast ahead 21-10 with 6:05 left in the third quarter.
"I juggled it for a second. ... it felt good," Brock said.
Brock later intercepted another pass, giving him a team-high three on the season. His late pick at SIU on Sept. 18 helped seal Southeast's big upset.
Borum and Brock were only two of Southeast's defensive stars as the unit held strong twice when EIU took advantage of mistakes to have prime touchdown opportunities.
Southeast's Mike Jones lost a fumble at his 11-yard line late in the second quarter. Borum's first sack of the day set the Panthers back and they had to settle for a short field goal that put them up 10-7.
Late in the third quarter, Southeast was called for having 12 men on the field during an EIU punt, the 15-yard penalty giving the Panthers possession back at the Redhawks' 34-yard line.
On fourth down, Brock's second interception of the day inside the 5-yard line preserved Southeast's 21-10 lead.
One more stout defensive stand soon followed as EIU faced third-and-3 at the Southeast 5. Junior end Steve Hendry notched his second sack of the season, and the Panthers had to settle for a short field goal that made it 21-13.
Southeast's defense punctuated things with senior cornerback Abraham Woodard's first collegiate interception at the Redhawks' 23 with 4:43 left.
"The defense was swarming," Samuel said. "They played hard."
Senior linebacker Justin Woodlief led Southeast with 11 tackles, followed by Borum's 10. Woodard and senior cornerback Aaron Grimes both had seven stops.
EIU gained 263 yards, the second-fewest yards allowed by Southeast this year.
Harris shines again
Senior tailback Henry Harris had his fourth straight 100-yard rushing performance with 179 yards on 27 carries while scoring two touchdowns. Harris had 115 yards in the second half.
"The blocking by the offensive line was great again," Harris said.
Harris, who entered play as the nation's sixth-leading rusher, has 680 yards through five games. He finished last year with 720 yards.
Harris, who also had 100 yards in kick returns, had 286 all-purpose yards. He was fourth nationally in that department.
"I thought their running back Harris was outstanding," EIU coach Bob Spoo said. "He's about as good as there is."
Southeast had 318 total yards, its second-lowest output of the season.
The Redhawks passed for only 41 yards as junior quarterback Matt Scheible completed 7 of 10. He was not intercepted for the eighth straight game. Scheible rushed for 66 yards on 10 carries.