The Colonels opened their first ASUN-WAC game as 9.5 point favorites over Tarleton State. The game started with a fantastic defensive stand as Davion Ross deflected the first pass, and Matthew Jackson and Shane Burks combined for a sack on third down. It took three drives for the Texans before they started the scoring with a field goal with 3:07 to go in the first quarter. The EKU offense answered quickly with a four-play, 75-yard drive capped off with a Parker McKinney 30 yard touchdown run. The run was McKinney’s second-longest run of his career. The next possession for EKU brought out some trickery, as WR Jyran Mitchell took the pitch and threw it back the QB Parker McKinney for a huge 32 yard gain. The EKU offense could not get in the end zone but extended their lead with a field goal.
Both defenses did their jobs the rest of the first half, and Joseph Sayles got his second interception of the season, late in the second quarter. In the category of weird stats, McKinney led the team in passing, rushing, and receiving at the end of the first half. The Colonels have struggled all season with three-and-outs, but they only had two of those in seven drives in the first half.
The second half was a defensive battle. Neither offense could get in the end zone, but the EKU offense was able to chew clock, and gain yards. They only had one three-and-out in the second half, which is a major improvement. Redshirt freshman kicker Patrick Nations hit a career-best 48-yard field goal in the third quarter. The defense really was the story though, as Eli Hairston recorded his first career pick-six with 8:15 to go in the game and seal the win for EKU.
Let’s start with the offense. They were only able to find the end zone once, but it was one of their better performances. The referees refused to call pass interference the entire night, but EKU sustained drives and chewed clock all game. DeJoun Hewitt ended the game with 119 yards rushing, giving him two straight games with over 100 yards on the ground. McKinney was the field general and led the team all day.
The defense continued playing great football, holding Tarleton State to just 3 points. They pressured the quarterback, only giving up 129 yards through the air, and played the run well giving up 102 yards between two rushers. TSU had scored at least double digits in 59 straight games, dating back to 2016, a streak that EKU snapped this weekend.
Eastern will conclude their four-game home stretch against Abilene Christian with a 6:00 PM kickoff.
Posted by Chris Brown on behalf of Vince Stover. Catch our preview on The Sports Stove Podcast, with a new “Local Hour” which will be released Wednesday. You can also follow Vince on Twitter and Instagram for more EKU coverage. Be sure to check out Belly Up Sports on Twitter for all the latest on college football and other sports.