Redhawks did not hurt playoff chances with loss

Monday, November 15, 2010

Losses don't get much tougher than what the Southeast Missouri State football team suffered Saturday.

In a fantastic game that could have gone either way, host Jacksonville State scored a touchdown with 11 seconds left to beat the Redhawks 29-27 in Jacksonville, Ala.

That capped a frantic finish and ended an entertaining contest between this year's Ohio Valley Conference heavyweights. JSU is ranked sixth nationally and Southeast seventh.

How tight was this OVC showdown? The lead changed hands six times over the final 18 minutes, 16 seconds. There was never more than a one-score separation between the squads.

That's the type of game it should have been with so much on the line.

And the good news for the Redhawks is that, despite the setback in their regular-season finale that ended their nine-game winning streak, their campaign almost certainly is not over.

Southeast, 9-2 overall and 7-1 in conference play, had already clinched a least a share of the program's first OVC championship.

The Redhawks can still capture the outright crown if Jacksonville State (9-1, 6-1) loses at Tennessee Tech on Saturday in its regular-season finale. If that were to happen, Southeast would receive the OVC's automatic FCS playoff berth.

But even if Jacksonville State beats Tennessee Tech to earn the OVC's automatic postseason nod -- based on the win over Southeast -- the Redhawks are not likely to be left out of the playoff party.

It was considered a given that the Redhawks would at worst receive an at-large playoff berth even with a loss to Jacksonville State, which would mark the first playoff appearance of any kind in program history.

Nothing should change in that regard. In fact, based on how Southeast nearly beat a club that was recently ranked second nationally on its home field, the FCS playoff committee might be impressed with the Redhawks even more.

Tennessee Tech can send Southeast to the playoffs for certain by upsetting Jacksonvlle State.

Even if that doesn't happen, I don't see the Redhawks sweating out an invitation when the FCS announces its 20-team field Sunday.

Despite the loss at Jacksonville State, there appears to be a good chance Southeast will be among the top 12 teams for the FCS playoffs, which would mean a first-round bye.

The top 12 squads don't play their first playoff game until Dec. 4. The bottom eight teams play the opening week (Nov. 27), with the winners advancing to face one of the top four seeds.

Jacksonville State is a virtual lock to earn a first-round bye.

The last time the OVC put two teams into the playoffs was 2007. A conference member hasn't posted a playoff victory since 2003, going 0-13 during that stretch.

Southeast teams in all sports that earn playoff berths generally have a get-together with their fans to watch televised selection shows.

I'm sure the university is going to arrange something similar for the football squad -- but people are going to have to get up early to attend. That's because the FCS playoff field will be revealed at 9 a.m. Sunday on ESPNU.

Touted recruits in any sport don't always live up to their hype, but Southeast men's basketball fans have got to be pleased by the Redhawks' two early signees.

Many people believe second-year coach Dickey Nutt and his staff pulled off a couple of recruiting coups by landing two highly regarded Memphis, Tenn., high school seniors last week.

Nino Johnson, a 6-foot-8, 225-pound power forward, and 6-3, 190-pound shooting guard Telvin Wilkerson are rated as three-star recruits on a five-star scale by Both, according to various recruiting websites, had scholarship offers from quite a few major programs.

Johnson has been ranked the nation's No. 17 high school power forward by ESPN's college basketball recruiting website. It rates him as a four-star recruit on a five-star scale.

The Sikeston High School football team continues to roll as it charges deeper into the Class 4 playoffs.

Sikeston routed its third straight playoff opponent Saturday, destroying host Roosevelt 47-0. That came after a 40-0 thrashing of Central.

Now the Bulldogs face what figures to be their stiffest postseason test, hosting Warrenton in Saturday's semifinal round. Warrenton advanced with a surprisingly lopsided 35-7 victory over highly regarded Ladue.

Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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