Despite a strong showing on both the offensive and defensive fronts, the timing wasn’t there for the football team as it fell 43-36 to Eastern Kentucky Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond, Ky.
The team started well offensively as junior runningback Pokey Harris returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the second straight week he racked up a full 100-yard kickoff return. Harris is the third player in conference history with two 100-yard kickoff returns, the second player to have two in the same season and the only player to complete the feat in back-to-back games.
“Pokey’s done a good job,” said Head Coach Chris Hatcher. “But all in all, I think all of our special teams. … Pokey’s just had two really good returns in back-to-back games. Once he gets an open field, he’s very fast. Fastest guy on our team. I’m real pleased with his performance, but those other guys have really taken a lot of pride in trying to spring him loose.”
The Colonels returned the favor with just over five minutes left in the first quarter as they added a two-yard rushing touchdown to the board. Junior kicker Carson Greifenkamp hit a 25-yard field goal to put the Racers back on top before the start of the second quarter.
The Racers continued to add to the score and ended the first half with a 20-point lead.
Still, Hatcher believed his team didn’t fully capitalize on a fourth-down conversion and opportunities that could have given his team a 35-point lead.
A successful first half couldn’t counteract fatal mistakes in the last minutes of the game, however, as redshirt sophomore quarterback K.D. Humphries threw an interception.
“You’ve got a redshirt sophomore quarterback back there that’s been playing really well,” Hatcher said. “He just made a bad throw at the end of the game. He threw a bunch of good ones, and then makes a bad throw at the end of the game.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s home game against Tennessee State, Hatcher anticipates a physical mismatch.
“Athletically, I would put them at the top of the league, year in and year out, since I’ve been here,” Hatcher said. “It’s going to be a tough game. I mean, it always is. We’re beat up; I’m sure they’re beat up.”
Tennessee State (5-6) is coming off a bye week after beating Austin Peay State 31-27 Nov. 8. Hatcher expects to see lots of size on the line for the Tigers and physical players on both sides of the ball. He said their offense will work to pound the ball and run play action passes past the Racers, which he hopes to limit by staying strong in the trenches. Offensively, they’ll be working to keep the ball on the perimeter.
The last game of the season will be no different than any others as the team pulls out all the stops.
“I think we’ll play well this week,” Hatcher said. “I thought we would play well last week, and we did. It wasn’t good enough to win, but we played probably the best we’d played in a while.”
Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor