Sept. 23, 2013 — You never know what to expect when you are matched up with a rival in any sport.
The Morehead State football Eagles squared off with Eastern Kentucky on Saturday night at Jayne Stadium in front of a crowd of more than 8,000 fans. The Colonels however would have the last laugh, defeating MSU 56-24
“I liked our passion and energy,” Head Coach Rob Tenyer said. “They showed a lot of courage and I told them this was gut-check week. This is where we've got to get tough.”
The Colonels (2-2) got career highs out of redshirt sophomore running back JJ Jude, who had 195 yards and four touchdowns. The win improved EKU’s dominance over MSU to a 51-16-4 all-time record and their eighth straight victory against the Eagles.
“He’s a good running back,” Tenyer said. “He’s strong and fast and a good football player. We played good at times but we just gave up too many big plays in the run game.”
Tenyer added: “They have about six 300-pound guys (on the offensive line). They run the football and that’s what they’re going to do in the OVC. We had some big stops tonight but we just couldn’t put the fire out when we needed to.”
The Eagles (0-4) were not intimidated by their rivals to the west and they showed that in the first half.
MSU was down 14-0 on Jude’s touchdowns when freshman quarterback Austin Gahafer connected with wide receiver Kitaro Lewis on a 32-yard touchdown just before the end of the first quarter. Jude would get another score midway through the second to give EKU a 21-17 advantage.
The Eagles responded on the next drive on a 12-play, 71-yard drive that was capped off by a touchdown pass from Gahafer to Rees Macshara from seven yards out to bring MSU within seven just before halftime.
Tenyer felt good about how his team played going into the break.
“We tried to make a few adjustments on both sides of the football,” Tenyer said. “We knew they were going to establish the run game and we didn’t get stops on defense in the third quarter. Early on we did, but later in the third it got away from us a little bit.”
The Eagles were within four points at 21-17 in the third quarter before EKU really distanced themselves from Morehead State. Quarterback Jared McClain had two touchdown passes to Devin Borders to give Eastern a 35-17 advantage.
The Eagles would get a little closer at the start of the fourth quarter when quarterback Logan Johnson came in relief of Gahafer to connect with Jake Raymond on a 14-yard pass to make it 35-24.
Gahafer and Johnson were a combined 39-for-59 for 312 yards and three touchdowns but only netted 37 yards rushing, something Tenyer really wanted to establish on Saturday.
“We’re having success throwing the ball,” Tenyer said. “They were giving us a lot of things but we need to run the football. We can’t throw the football 59 times a game and expect to win, especially when you have three turnovers.”
They would get no further as EKU scored 21 unanswered to end the ballgame. EKU racked up a season high 606 yards with 345 of those coming on the ground.
One bright spot was junior linebacker Jordan Hendrix, who had a game-high nine tackles to lead MSU.
Morehead State will search for their first win of the season as they head back into the Pioneer Football League play when they host Davidson Saturday at 1 p.m.
MacKenzie Bates can be reached at email@example.com or by telephone at 784-4116.