Courtesy of Eastern Illinois Athletics
CHARLESTON, Ill. â€“ On a day that Eastern Illinois retired the No. 18 formerly worn by New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, even the former All-American could not help the 22nd ranked Panthers as they fell to Central Arkansas. EIU found itself on the wrong side of a 37-7 score.
EIUâ€™s defense was able to hold the UCA offense in check on its first possession by the Bears recovered a muffed punt inside the Panthers 20-yard line in the opening minutes. Sean Campbell was able to give the Panthers some life as he picked off UCA quarterback Nathan Dick to prevent an early Bears score.
The muffed punt appeared to be a sign of things to come as EIU fumbled three punts in the opening quarter as they had five turnovers after not committing any in the season opener at Iowa last week. UCA was able to take advantage of the second muffed punt as Eddie Carmona knocked home a 21-yard field goal with 8:10 to go in the first quarter.
On the ensuing EIU possession Markell Carter forced a Brandon Large fumble which UCA recovered at the EIU 28-yard line. Terence Bobo would finish off the drive with a 3-yard run at the 5:29 mark to put the Bears up 10-0.
Senior Jimmy Potempa would help the Panthers offense get on track on the next drive as he broke a 52-yard run to place the Panthers in UCA territory. Large would hit Chris Wright for a 13-yard strike to put the ball inside the ten yard line. He then found Von Wise for the second straight week for a 2-yard touchdown reception. Large finished 10-of-24 for 52 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Potempa was a bright spot for the offense with 92 yards rushing on 9 carries.
EIUâ€™s defense held UCAâ€™s offense to a 3-and-out on the next possession but Radariu Winston picked off Brandon Large to give the Bears the ball back to end the first quarter. Wynric Smothers would split time with Dick at quarterback and mobile runner scored from 19-yards out to put UCA up 17-7 early in the second quarter. Smothers was the Bears leading rusher with 76 yards and two touchdowns. Smothers added a five-yard run in the fourth quarter.
UCA dominated time of possession holding the ball for 37:30 with close to 30 more offensive plays than the Panthers unit. Nick Nasti led four EIU players in double digit tackles with 15 stops. Nick Martinez and Cory Leman each added 12 tackles while CJ James finished with 10.
Dick finished with 167 yards passing on 22-of-30 while Smothers was a perfect 7-of-7 for 46 yards. Lamar Moore and Frank Newsome each had six tackles to lead UCA.