EIU Loses First Conference Road Contest

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Published on October 8 2012 6:49 pm
Last Updated on October 8 2012 6:49 pm
Written by Millie Lange


MARTIN, Tenn. – Eastern Illinois lost its first Ohio Valley Conference road contest of the season Saturday afternoon as the Panthers fell 51-37 at UT Martin. Both teams are now 2-1 in the OVC. UTM is 4-2 overall, EIU fell to 3-3 overall.

EIU left 17 potential points on the field as they had one pass intercepted in the end zone, one ball fumbled at the goal line, a missed extra point and a blocked extra point returned for conversion.

The Skyhawks opened the game with a 93 yard kickoff return by Kevin Barfield to quickly take a 7-0 lead.  EIU answered with a touchdown drive of its own as Jimmy Garoppolo had a rushing touchdown before the extra point was missed giving UTM a 7-6 lead with 11:03 left in the first.

UTM added a pair of first quarter touchdowns to lead 21-6 at the end of the quarter.  Derek Carr had touchdown passes to Jeremy Butler and Barfield just ten seconds apart.  EIU lost a fumble on the kickoff following Butler’s touchdown reception to set up the Skyhawks quick score.

The Panthers played the remainder of the game trying to cut down the score. EIU trailed 21-13 following a Jake Walker touchdown and trailed 21-19 following a second Walker score with 4:11 left to play. UTM blocked the extra point and Thad Williams returned it for two points giving UTM a 23-19 lead.

“I was disappointed in our special teams play today, especially facing the No. 1 special teams unit in the OVC in UT Martin,” said head coach Dino Babers. “The opening TD did not decide the game but I have been in a lot of games in my career that the team that scores on an opening kickoff return usually wins the game.”

DJ McNeil scored with 2:17 left in the half and UTM forced a fumble at the goal line as Garoppolo was scrambling for a score with four seconds left. UTM player Fred Flenorl forced the fumble and was hurt on the play having to be taken to a local hospital after the play.

EIU could never get back in the game in the second half.

Walker rushed for 182 yards. Garoppolo passed for 428 yards while Erik Lora; the nation’s leading receiver had 17 catches for 215 yards. The Panthers final score of the game came as Walker marched EIU down the field on the ground.

“I was trying to send a message to our team of how physical this game needs to be played,” said Babers. “We ran three basic plays.”

Carr was 29-of-38 for 312 yards and four scores.

Pete Houlihan and Robert Haynes led EIU with 9 tackles. Ben Johnson led UTM with 16 tackles. EIU turned the ball over five times.

EIU hosts Jacksonville State for its homecoming game next Saturday with a 1:30 p.m. kick at O’Brien Field.

Notes
* Artavious Dowdell moves into EIU career top ten for sacks.
* Erik Lora moves into single season top ten for receptions with 72 (ranks 2nd)
* Erik Lora sixth straight game with 100-yards receiving.
* Jake Walker rushes for over 100 yards for the 2nd time this season.