Oct. 24, 2009

Courtesy of Eastern Illinois

JACKSONVILLE, Ala. – Lorence Ricks was a force on special teams on Saturday afternoon as the sophomore helped No. 24 Eastern Illinois (6-2, 4-1 OVC) shock No. 12 Jacksonville State (4-3), 28-20, at Paul Snow Stadium.

Ricks returned a kick for a touchdown in the third quarter to answer a JSU scoring drive and later forced a fumble on punt return by Alan Bonner in the fourth quarter that gave EIU the ball with 5:49 left in the game in JSU territory. Earlier in the game Ricks blocked a punt that EIU recovered inside the five yard line.

The Panthers stood strong despite playing without up to six starters at certain times of the game. Trailing 28-20, JSU had the ball with 4:02 left in the game at their own 39 yard line. Ryan Perrilloux kept the drive alive the Gamecocks by converting a 4th and 10 with a quarterback run. Later on the drive CJ James would pick off a Perrilloux pass on fourth down to seal the win for EIU with 1:39 left in the game. Perrilloux finished the day 16-of-26 for 236 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

Eastern Illinois pulled several tricks out of the bag in the first quarter as the Panthers built an early lead over Jacksonville State. On the opening drive Jake Christensen hit Daniel Vehovic on a fourth and one from the JSU 29 yard line to keep a drive alive. Erik Lora would score a few plays later as he collected a touchdown pass from Christensen as the pass bounced off Ricks and fell into Lora’s hands.

The Panthers would follow up with an onside kick which they recovered at the JSU 46. Doug Reynolds would attempt a run on a fake field goal from the one-yard line but was stuffed out by the Gamecocks defense as they held EIU out of the end zone on four cracks from inside the six yard line.

The Panthers were able to hold the ball for nearly 11 minutes of the first half. On JSU’s first offensive possession of the game the Panthers forced JSU to punt with Ricks coming off the left edge to block the punt. Greg Mahan had a chance to scoop up the ball and score from the five yard line before Conor Murnane fell on the ball. EIU scored two plays later with Mon Williams running in from four yards out.

Jacksonville State finally cracked the scoreboard with 49 seconds left in the half as Ryan Perrilloux hit James Wilkerson on a third down pass; Wilkerson bounced out of a tackle and raced for a 38-yard score. Patrick Tatum would miss the point after leaving EIU with a 14-6 lead at the half.

EIU held JSU to a three and out on the opening possession of the second half and the Panther offense responded with Christensen finding Chris Wright for an 11-yard strike to put EIU up 21-6. Christensen finished the day 16-of-29 for 190 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.

Perrilloux cut the EIU lead to 21-13 with an 8-yard touchdown run with 6:27 left in the third quarter. Following Ricks return for touchdown that put EIU up 28-13, JSU drove down the field to cut the lead to 28-20 on a Calvin Middleton two yard run with 49 seconds left in the third quarter.

EIU was limited to just 65 yards rushing but was able to hold JSU to just 129 yards rushing. Mon Williams led EIU with 38 yards and a score. JSU’s top rusher was Middleton with 53 yards and a score.

Lora was the top Panther receiver hauling in 3 passes for 48 yards and a touchdown. Wilkerson led the Gamecocks with five receptions for 96 yards.

The top EIU tackler was Nick Nasti with eight solo stops. Rashad Haynes and Sean Campbell added seven tackles. Alexander Henderson led JSU with 15 tackles.

The Panthers return to action next week at Murray State with a 1 p.m. kickoff against the Racers.