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McFerren reasserts self at tailback in Southeast Missouri State football team's win
Lennies McFerren had been something of a forgotten man in Southeast Missouri State's backfield.
It was hard to forget about McFerren on Saturday. The redshirt freshman nearly posted the first 100-yard rushing performance of his college career during a 55-44 home win over NAIA Central Methodist.
McFerren gained 99 yards on 16 carries and scored his first collegiate touchdown, which came on a 9-yard run in the third quarter.
"It was a pretty crazy game. I had fun," McFerren said.
McFerren began the season as Southeast's starting tailback. He gained just 54 yards on 23 carries in the first five games as junior Levi Terrell became the Redhawks' primary tailback option.
Terrell suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in the fifth contest, after which junior Renard Celestin received the bulk of the carries at tailback.
But Celestin was out Saturday with an injury just as McFerren was returning from his own shoulder ailment that forced him to miss the past three games.
True freshman AJ Cobb started at tailback Saturday, but McFerren got the majority of the work.
"It felt good to carry it again," McFerren said. "I had to step up."
McFerren, who attended New Madrid County Central High School through his sophomore season before playing his final two years in Paris, Tenn., hopes to build off Saturday's performance.
"Finish strong, keep going on to my last three years here," McFerren said.
McFerren smiled after being told he fell one yard short of 100.
"I'll get it next game," he said.
Southeast coach Tony Samuel liked what he saw from McFerren.
"He did some good things. I saw some good runs," Samuel said.
Peiffer stays hot
Junior linebacker Blake Peiffer wasn't enamored with Southeast's defensive performance after CMU's rarely seen triple option gashed the Redhawks for 44 points and 436 yards.
"To me it was a little disappointing, letting them score all those points on us even though they had that tough triple option," Peiffer said.
Peiffer continued to shine despite the defensive struggles. The Jackson High School graduate has been Southeast's top tackler in all nine games this season and recorded a career-high 18 stops Saturday. He had 1.5 tackles for loss.
Peiffer has reached double figures in tackles eight times this year, including four times with 15 or more. He has 117 tackles this season after entering play leading the OVC and ranking sixth nationally.
Peiffer is the first Southeast player to reach 100 tackles in a season since current Redhawks assistant coach Nick Stauffer had a school-record 150 in 2008.
Junior safety Tylor Brock also recorded double-figure tackles Saturday with 11. He also wasn't excited by the defensive's performance.
"It's embarrassing," Brock said.
Asked if he expected Southeast's defensive coaches to be upset, Brock said "I hope so."
No more Foster
Sophomore wide receiver D.J. Foster, who leads Southeast in catches with 25, did not play Saturday after being suspended for the rest of the season.
Foster, who is averaging 14.1 yards per reception and has scored three touchdowns, also was suspended for the Oct. 15 game at Eastern Kentucky.
"That's an in-house thing, a thing we feel is necessary to do. We'll leave it at that," Samuel said about Foster.
Day of firsts
McFerren was one of three Southeast players to score his first collegiate touchdown.
Senior wide receiver Aaron King notched his on a 32-yard pass from senior quarterback Matt Scheible in the opening quarter.
Sophomore fullback Josh Nicks recorded his on a 3-yard run in the third quarter.
Senior defensive end Courtney Brame had Southeast's lone sack, which also was the first of his career.
Junior Drew Geldbach, who has handled all of Southeast's field goals and extra points the past two years, missed Saturday's game after Samuel said he suffered a strained groin in Thursday's practice.
Sophomore Joe Vucic, Southeast's punter, made both of his field-goal attempts, from 34 and 24 yards. His 24-yarder with 18 seconds left rounded out the scoring.
True freshman Eddie Kocwa, from Australia, handled the extra points and was perfect in seven attempts.
Kocwa and Vucic shared the kickoff duties, with Kocwa booting seven of the 10.
"They did a good job," Samuel said. "Joe kicked two nice field goals."
* There was just one turnover Saturday, a fumble by CMU on its first offensive possession. Southeast senior defensive end Steve Hendry recovered and it led to the Redhawks' second touchdown.
* Southeast junior defensive end Justin Love suffered an apparent knee injury early in the game. He did not return.
* Saturday's 99 combined points marked the most scored in regulation play during Southeast's Division I era, which began in 1991.
* Southeast returns to action Saturday, hosting nationally ranked Jacksonville State. The Gamecocks (5-4, 4-2) fell out of a first-place Ohio Valley Conference tie after Saturday's 52-48 home loss to Eastern Kentucky.