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Jackson graduate makes first start for Southeast football team
CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Brandon Beck's interesting road to college football took him to his first career start Saturday night.
Beck, a 2006 Jackson High School graduate, was in the lineup at fullback for Southeast Missouri State as the Redhawks played at regional rival Southern Illinois.
Beck took the place of sophomore Ron Coleman, who was on the sideline in street clothes after injuring a knee during last week's win over Mars Hill.
Although Southeast lost 35-14, Beck had a solid performance and even received his first two collegiate carries.
"It was exciting," Beck said.
Beck, a 5-foot-10, 220-pound sophomore, netted 15 yards on his two rushes. His second carry, a seven-yarder, came on fourth-and-2 from the SIU 8-yard line early in the final quarter and set up Southeast's first touchdown.
"He played hard," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said.
After graduating from Jackson in 2006 -- he earned all-conference and all-region honors at linebacker -- Beck intended to play on the NAIA level for Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Mo.
But Beck changed course and decided to go into the military. He spent four years in the Army, including a 14-month deployment to Iraq. But his dream of playing college football never left him.
Beck enrolled at Southeast in January of 2011 and approached the coaching staff about joining the program as a walk-on. He participated in spring practice and impressed Samuel.
"We liked him all along," Samuel said.
Beck made his mark on special teams for the Redhawks last year, playing in 10 games and recording five tackles. He had one tackle in Southeast's first two games this season and continued to play on special teams Saturday.
"I'm just trying to do my best helping my team out," Beck said.
Beck, at 25, is Southeast's oldest player.
"I just like being around the guys," he said. "Being an older guy, I think I can help out."
Peiffer, Spann lead defense
All-American senior linebacker Blake Peiffer led Southeast with 18 tackles, one off his career high. He also paced the Redhawks with 2 1/2 tackles for loss.
It was Peiffer's first double-digit tackle performance of the season after he had 10 in 11 games last year. He broke the record for tackles at Saluki Stadium, which is in its third year of existence.
"It really doesn't matter," said Peiffer, more concerned with the final score than his individual performance.
Senior safety Brandon Spann, in his first year as a starter, had his first collegiate interception and fumble recovery.
"It's good I guess," Spann said, although he also seemed far more interested in the game's outcome.
Spann was Southeast's third-leading tackler with nine, while senior safety Tylor Brock had 10.
Senior nose tackle Joe Malolo and true freshman cornerback David Coley also recovered fumbles.
* Southeast junior punter Joe Vucic had a big night, averaging 45.3 yards on nine kicks and placing three inside the 20. Once he pinned SIU at the 1 and another time at the 3.
"Joe had some good punts tonight. He is very consistent," Samuel said.
* SIU was 11 of 17 on third downs and 2 of 2 on fourth downs. Southeast was 3 of 13 on third downs.
"We just couldn't get them off the field on third down," Samuel said.
* Southeast increased its Ohio Valley Conference-leading turnover margin with four gained and one lost. The Redhawks have a plus eight turnover margin (13 gained, five lost) to rank among the national leaders.
* Southeast will now turn its attention to OVC play. The Redhawks' final eight regular-season games are against OVC opponents beginning Saturday when Tennessee Tech visits Houck Stadium for a 6 p.m. kickoff.