COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Turnovers turned into victory for Eastern Illinois football on Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers forced four Tennessee Tech turnovers, leading to a 28-14 EIU win at Tucker Stadium.
The biggest turnover of the game came midway through the fourth quarter as Tennessee Tech was driving for what appeared to be a game-tying touchdown with EIU leading 21-14. TTU’s quarterback lost the handle on the football during a scramble inside the 10 yard line. Bryce Dewberry scooped up the loose ball and raced a school-record 90 yards for the touchdown.
EIU’s win moved the Panthers to 1-4 on the season but more importantly, 1-0 in the OVC. TTU fell to 0-4 on the year, 0-1 in the league.
Eastern Illinois defense helped set up its two second quarter touchdowns after Tennessee Tech built a 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Logen Neidhardt pinned TTU inside its ten yard line on a punt and a big play on third down by Dewberry forced the Golden Eagles to punt from their one-yard line, giving EIU good field position.
DeAirious Smith caught a seven-yard strike from Otto Kuhns with 6:37 to play in the first half to bring EIU within one point as the extra point was missed. Smith finished the day with six catches for 109 yards.
Kaelin Drakeford would help set up the Panthers second touchdown as the safety picked off a TTU pass with 1:11 left in the half. Kuhns connected with Smith for the second time in the half on a 16-yard touchdown pass to put EIU in the lead with 16 seconds left in the half. Kuhns found DeWayne Cooks for a two-point conversion to give EIU a 14-7 lead at the half.
TTU took the lead 7-0 in the first quarter when Drew Martin hit Quinton Cross on a 62-yard pass.
Arron Foulkes extended EIU’s lead to 21-7 with 5:54 to play in the third quarter scoring on a 24-yard end around. EIU would rush for 121 yards in the game with Harrison Bey-Buie leading the way with 79 yards.
TTU cut the margin to one score with 2:21 left in the third as David Gist rushed in from one yard out. Martin was 5-of-5 on the drive marching the Golden Eagles down the field in six plays. Martin finished the day 26-of-38 passing for 315 yards.
EIU forced two final turnovers on the final two Tennessee Tech possessions of the game as Jordan Miles had a strip sack with 2:45 remaining in the fourth. Miles created another strip sack with 16 seconds left in the contest as Jason Johnson recovered the fumble.
Johnson led an active EIU defense with 16 tackles. Miles had four tackles with two sacks, both forcing fumbles. Tim Varga added two more sacks for EIU’s defense.
TTU’s defense was led by Nyquan Washington and Jack Warwick both with eight tackles. Jamaal Singleton had a first half interception for the Golden Eagles.
PHOTOS: Illinois State at Eastern Illinois