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Terrell's big day: 1,000-yard season, marriage proposal
You'd have to say it was a pretty good day for Levi Terrell despite Southeast Missouri State's most lopsided loss of the season.
Terrell, among 23 Southeast seniors making their final home appearance Saturday, was naturally disappointed after Eastern Kentucky routed the Redhawks 31-7.
But the tailback, one of Southeast's captains along with senior linebacker Blake Peiffer, could take solace in two notable personal milestones.
Terrell cracked the coveted 1,000-yard rushing barrier with two games to spare, gaining 57 yards on 16 carries against EKU's rugged defense.
Terrell, who needed just 19 yards Saturday to surpass 1,000, now has 1,038 yards on the season in nine games. He entered Saturday as the Ohio Valley Conference's second-leading rusher and No. 9 nationally.
"After the season it'll be something good to look back on. As of right now I'd much rather have the win," said Terrell, who as he has done numerous times this year praised his offensive line. "I couldn't have done it without them. A lot of times I'm not getting touched until I get past that first line [of the defense]."
Terrell might have been even more bummed about the blowout defeat except for something that took place just minutes after the game -- he proposed to his girlfriend of several years, Raediance Koonce, on the field.
"Yeah," said a smiling Terrell when he was kiddingly asked if she accepted the proposal. He said they have not yet set a date for the wedding.
Terrell said he and Koonce met as freshmen at Nebraska-Omaha, where Terrell had two standout seasons before the school dropped its Division II football program.
Terrell said it just so happened that UNO also dropped Koonce's major, so she followed Terrell in transferring to Southeast, where she is a member of the university's dance team.
UNO's loss was certainly Southeast's gain. Terrell might have threatened the 1,000-yard mark during his first season with the Redhawks last year before injury got in the way.
Terrell, after sharing backfield time during his first two games in 2011, became the Redhawks' feature back. He rushed for 154 yards at Tennessee Tech in week 3, then followed with 106 yards against Eastern Illinois.
But Terrell's campaign came to a crashing halt early in week 5 at Tennessee State when he suffered a broken collarbone that required surgery. He finished with 312 yards despite missing the final six games and most of the contest in which he was injured.
"That kid ... I'm very proud of him," Southeast coach Tony Samuel said. "When he went down last year, that was tough. He's a great, hard worker. He's a great leader by example. When he speaks, they all listen.
This year isn't Terrell's first 1,000-yard collegiate rushing season. He gained 1,182 yards while playing in only eight games as a UNO freshman in 2009.
Terrell rushed for 960 yards despite being slowed by a hamstring problem as a UNO sophomore before the school dropped football. He then transferred to Southeast, which had recruited him out of Fox High School in Arnold, Mo.
"My whole college career has kind of been riddled with injury," said Terrell, who had his string of five straight 100-yard rushing games end Saturday. "It feels good to help my team out the entire year."
Southeast true freshman quarterback Blake Jackson saw his most extensive action of the season by far Saturday and was impressive.
Jackson replaced redshirt freshman Scott Lathrop with a little more than five minutes left in the third quarter and Southeast trailing 24-0.
Jackson went the rest of the way. He did not attempt a pass but rushed for a team-high 68 yards on 10 carries and scored Southeast's only touchdown on a 14-yard run with 4 minutes, 3 seconds left in the game.
"It was a good experience. I've been really anxious to get in," said Jackson, who added of his touchdown: "I've been waiting a long time for that."
Jackson, from Houston, Texas, had played sparingly in five games prior to Saturday. He had rushed five times for three yards while completing 3 of 4 passes for 23 yards and a TD.
"Blake needed to get a look. Scotty was struggling a little bit," Samuel said. "He did some good things."
Southeast gained 262 yards, its second-lowest total of the season. Ninety one of the yards came on Southeast's late drive that averted the shutout.
The Redhawks allowed 364 yards, also their second-lowest figure this year.
Lathrop completed 6 of 12 passes for 56 yards. Junior wide receiver D.J. Foster caught four passes for 32 yards. Terrell had two receptions for 24 yards.
Peiffer, an All-American and Jackson High School graduate, led Southeast's defense with 11 tackles. giving him 99 on the season. He set the school record last year with 151 tackles.
Senior safety Tylor Brock added nine tackles.
EKU had all four of the game's quarterback sacks while Southeast had all three of the turnovers in the contest.