Redhawks football is better than the record

Monday, October 22, 2012

Southeast Missouri State isn't a bad football team, even though the Redhawks' 2-5 overall record and 1-3 Ohio Valley Conference mark might suggest otherwise.

What the 2012 Redhawks are is a decent squad that simply can't get over the proverbial hump.

The Redhawks have lost three consecutive games, all in OVC play, most recently Saturday's 27-17 homecoming defeat to Tennessee-Martin.

That 10-point setback represents the closest margin during Southeast's current skid, which seems to indicate the Redhawks haven't really been all that competitive during those contests.

But that couldn't be further from the truth. Southeast has been within one score during the fourth quarter against, in order, Jacksonville State, Tennessee State and Tennessee-Martin.

And that's not even counting all the chances the Redhawks had earlier in the games against three of the OVC's best teams.

If the Redhawks had just made a few more plays, their overall and conference records could easily be flipped right now. Of course, you probably can say that about a lot of squads across the country.

But sports is a bottom-line proposition, with teams judged based on wins and loss. Right now the bottom line doesn't favor Southeast.

Although things rarely are easy on the road, you've got to think the Redhawks will have a good chance to break their losing streak Saturday when they travel to winless Austin Peay.

While so many OVC games have been close this season, the Governors (0-7, 0-5) have been getting blown out on a regular basis.

Austin Peay, off to its worst start since 2008, has lost nine consecutive games by at least 20 points for the first time in program history.

The Govs' OVC defeats this season have been by 50, 38, 31, 25 and 20 points.

The wild world of OVC football continued over the weekend. There were only three games played, the most notable being Jacksonville State's 31-28 overtime win over previously undefeated Tennessee State that further scrambled the conference standings.

It looked like Tennessee State would keep its perfect record intact when kicker Jamin Godfrey made what appeared to be a game-winning 42-yard field goal with four-tenths of a second left in regulation.

But the Tigers were hit with a false-start penalty, and Godfrey then missed from 47 yards to force overtime. He also missed from 42 yards on the Tigers' overtime possession before Jacksonville State won with a field goal.

So four OVC teams are virtually tied for first place with one conference loss, and two more squads still are in the title hunt with two defeats.

Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee-Martin are both 4-1, followed by Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois at 3-1. Jacksonville State is 3-2 while Murray State is 2-2.

Only Southeast (1-3), Tennessee Tech (0-4) and Austin Peay (0-5) are out of the championship picture, but those squads certainly could play the role of spoiler down the stretch.

Three teams tied for last year's OVC title with two losses apiece, and another multiple championship deadlock looks like a strong possibility.

One of the great things about Southeast homecoming is the chance to see so many of the university's former athletes in various sports who come back to Cape Girardeau for the weekend.

I ran into a bunch of them, both at Saturday's football game and later in the day at the men's basketball scrimmage. It's always good to catch up on old times.

Among the more notable attendees at the football game were ex-Southeast All-American Eugene Amano, a Tennessee Titans offensive line starter the past few years who is on injured reserve this season, and former Southeast men's basketball coach Ron Shumate.

Speaking of the basketball scrimmage at the Show Me Center, I saw a lot of things that make me believe Southeast fans are in for an exciting season and that the Redhawks will continue their resurgence under coach Dickey Nutt.

Among the approximately 200 people who attended the scrimmage was Jonathan Burroughs-Cook, a senior guard at Ridgeway High School in Memphis, Tenn., who is being recruited by Southeast.

Nutt has developed a nice pipeline to the talent-rich Memphis area, and I know he would love to land Burroughs-Cook.

This week used to mark the end of Missouri's high school football regular season, but now the playoffs begin under the state's new format.

Squads primarily have played a nine-game schedule -- some teams only played eight games -- before automatically qualifying for a single-elimination district tournament bracket that is seeded based on various factors from the regular season.

So beginning this week it's do-or-die time for area squads, the lone exception being Jackson.

The Indians are in a six-team district -- most of the districts across the state consist of eight squads -- and since they are seeded first they earned an opening-round bye. They'll host a second-round district game next week, and if they win that they'll also be at home for the district championship contest.

My condolences go out to the family and friends of Grace Hoover, a longtime ardent supporter of Southeast athletics and of the university who passed away Friday.

I ran into Grace countless times at various Southeast sporting events over the years. She always had a hug and kind words for me.

Grace was 86, so she certainly had a long and fulfilling life, but she will be missed.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian.

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