Southeast Missouri State football coach Tony Samuel had few complaints with the collegiate debut of quarterback Scott Lathrop.
Lathrop, a redshirt freshman thrust into the starting role because of a season-ending knee injury to Kyle Snyder, displayed plenty of poise in directing the Redhawks' offense.
Lathrop threw crisp, accurate passes and made solid decisions on the option as the Redhawks hung tough before dropping their season opener 38-27 at Central Michigan Thursday night.
"He's a competitor. We've known that since high school," Samuel said about the Warrenton, Mo., native. "I thought he made a good showing for himself. I thought he handled himself well."
Lathrop completed 10 of 17 passes for 120 yards and his first collegiate touchdown, a 15-yard strike to junior D.J. Foster. Lathrop was not intercepted.
Lathrop rushed 17 times for 31 yards, with two sacks for 14 yards in losses figuring into that total.
Lathrop was the first player other than record-setting Matt Scheible to start under center for Southeast since 2008. Scheible completed his eligibility last year.
"The thing he understands, he doesn't have to win the game by himself, just the run the offense," Samuel said. "He ran the option, made some good decisions, made the simple throws. He didn't try to force anything."
CMU finished with a 495 to 308 edge in total yardage. Southeast had just 87 second-half yards.
Senior tailback Levi Terrell led Southeast rushers with 78 yards on 15 carries. The Redhawks finished with 188 yards on the ground.
Foster caught six passes for 97 yards.
Sophomore linebacker George Neuhaus unexpectedly earned his first start for Southeast due to a team suspension.
Neuhaus intercepted his first collegiate pass, which led to a Southeast field goal, and recovered his first collegiate fumble, which led to a touchdown.
Neuhaus helped Southeast win the turnover battle 3-0 as the Redhawks offense did not commit a turnover.
Sophomore cornerback Reggie Jennings, making his first collegiate start, and senior safety Tylor Brock led the Redhawks in tackles with 10 apiece. Jennings had two tackles for loss.
Samuel had praise for Southeast's two new starting cornerbacks, including junior Cantrell Andrews from Central High School who made his first start with the Redhawks.
Andrews was credited with six tackles, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
"I thought the corners did a very good job for their first time," Samuel said.
All-American senior linebacker Blake Peiffer from Jackson High School had eight tackles.
Senior nose tackle Joe Malolo was a disruptive force up front with seven tackles, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
Two Southeast defensive starters, senior tackle Taylor Ramsey and senior linebacker Darrick Borum, did not make the trip after violating unspecified team policy.
Borum started all 11 games last year and was Southeast's fourth-leading tackler with 65.
Borum's absence helped free up playing time for Neuhaus.
* True freshman Blake Jackson, who entered the season as Lathrop's backup, played two snaps late in the fourth quarter. He completed a pass that netted zero yards and ran for five yards.
* Junior Joe Vucic averaged 47.6 yards on five punts, including kicks of 68 and 57 yards.
* Southeast was whistled for 10 penalties worth 75 yards while the Chippewas were not penalized.