Story and photo courtesy of Eastern Kentucky Athletics
RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s 21st ranked football team jumped out to a 34-8 halftime lead on its way to a 51-21 win over No. 24 Jacksonville State University on Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium. The game featured a match-up of the top two teams in the Ohio Valley Conference preseason poll.
Eastern (3-1, 1-0 OVC) rolled up 380 yards of offense in the first half and scored on five of its seven possessions. Colonel senior quarterback T.J. Pryor had four first half touchdown passes while JSU quarterbacks combined for three completions.
Pryor got EKU on the board by capping the team’s first possession with a 28-yard touchdown toss to senior running back Matt Denham.
With Eastern Kentucky in front 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Gamecocks cut the deficit to six with an eight-play, 74-yard scoring drive. Coty Blanchard completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to Denzel Cheeks and Jerry Slota ran in for the two-point conversion.
The Colonels scored on their next possession, starting a streak of 20 unanswered points. Senior wide out Tyrone Goard hauled in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Pryor to get it started. Pryor also completed scoring strikes of 18 and three yards to finish off the second quarter.
Pryor finished the first half 12-for-17 for 218 yards to go along with his four touchdown passes.
After Jacksonville State (1-2, 0-1 OVC) put seven on the board with 4:23 left in the third quarter, Denham answered with a career-long 73-yard touchdown run to push the lead back to 29 points.
Any hope of a fourth quarter Gamecock comeback faded when senior defensive back Cejay Ceniza intercepted his second pass of the game at the EKU 16 and returned it 84 yards down the visitors sideline for a touchdown. The extra-point made it 51-15 with 14:45 left in the game.
Eastern finished with 558 yards of offense. Pryor completed 13 of 20 pass attempts for 231 yards and did not throw an interception. The Colonels combined for 327 yards on the ground. Denham carried 24 times for 218 yards, two touchdowns on the ground and one through the air. Junior running back Deshaun Sands had 46 yards on 14 carries. Goard caught five passes for 91 yards and a score.
JSU’s Marques Ivory went 14-for-26 for 181 yards. He tossed one touchdown pass and two interceptions. DaMarcus James ran for 65 yards and a touchdown.
EKU takes to the road next week for a national televised game at UT Martin. Kick off on FOX College Sports is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET.