By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Most of the players on this year’s EKU roster were still wearing diapers the last time the Colonels played at Morehead State.
Of course, that was 20 years ago.
More than a generation has passed since the EKU-Morehead rivalry really began to fade into history.
The teams didn’t play for 13 years (1995-2008) and have only met twice in the past 18 years.
Still, the memories of the intensity of the rivalry aren’t entirely gone, especially for the Kentucky-born players on each team.
“If you are playing football at Eastern, you’ve got to love the history,” EKU safety Tyler Horn, a native of Harrodsburg, said. “(The EKU-Morehead) rivalry goes all the way back to Phil Simms in the 70s. I’m excited. Hopefully, one day they will get back to a full scholarship football and play in the OVC. Having another in-state rivalry is exciting. It’s fun.”
The Colonels (1-2) are set to take on Morehead State (0-3) today at Jayne Stadium.
Game time is set for 7 p.m.
EKU has not traveled to Morehead since 1993, when it picked up a 44-7 win.
The Colonels and Eagles were original members of the Ohio Valley Conference when the league was formed in 1945.
The teams played on an almost yearly basis until Morehead State dropped down to non-scholarship football and dropped out of the OVC in 1995.
This will be the 71st meeting between the schools. EKU leads the all-time series, 50-16-4.
“I love college rivalries,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “I have no concept that Texas doesn’t play Texas A&M anymore. I like college football to have rivalries. When I came here that was one of the things I talked to (EKU AD Mark) Sandy about. I told him that I want to play Morehead and I wanted to play Western. We can’t get the Western things worked out, so we are going to Morehead to play them.”
The Colonels have won seven straight meetings in the series, with Morehead’s last win coming in 1990 at Roy Kidd Stadium.
The rivalry has been reborn, to a certain degree, in recent years.
The teams played at Roy Kidd Stadium in 2008 and again last year.
The Colonels picked up harder-than-expected wins both times — 16-8 in 2008 and 24-17 in 2012.
“They’ve played really well (against us),” Hood said of Morehead. “I think that’s the bottom line. It’s a big game. It’s a rivalry game.”
The Colonels certainly need a big win after a disappointing performance last week.
EKU allowed more than 600 yards of offense and suffered a 51-32 loss at home to #21 Coastal Carolina.
The 51 points was the most the Colonels had ever allowed at Roy Kidd Stadium, which opened in 1969.
EKU came into the game giving up just 66 yards a game on the ground, but the Chanticleers had 339 yards rushing, 200 of which came in the first half.
“If you don’t stop the run, you are in for a long day,” Hood said.
With OVC play set to open next week at Eastern Illinois, the Colonels are eager to get back on the field and move on from a humbling setback and pick a win in their final non-conference game.
“It’s another week. It’s another day to get better,” Horn said. “That’s what we are working on. We are worrying about Morehead State. Coastal Carolina is behind us.”
Morehead State has yet to earn a victory in Rob Tenyer’s first season at the school.
The Eagles lost at home to Pikeville, 13-10, in the season opener and suffered back-to-back road losses to #25 Youngstown State and Pioneer League rival Jacksonville.
In those road loses, they were out-scored 136-32.
In last year’s game, Morehead tied the game (10-10) mid-way through the third quarter before two touchdown drives gave the Colonels a 24-10 lead.
EKU limited the Eagles to just nine yards rushing, but they did pass for 304 yards and 15 first downs.
“With a new scheme, there’s not much you can do with last year’s film,” EKU quarterback Jared McClain said. “So, we are just going to go with what they’ve done the past three weeks.”
The Eagles have showcased a more balanced offensive attack this season. Logan Johnson and Austin Gahafer have split time under center and have combined to complete 52 percent of their passes with just one touchdown and three interceptions.
Brandon Reeves, Rees Macshara and Rob Harden all have more than 100 yards rushing so far this season for Morehead.
The Colonels are still dealing with some serious injury concerns.
McClain was wearing a walking boot earlier in the week, but he said at Tuesday’s press conference that, ‘It’s just precautionary,’ and he expects to play against the Eagles.
Once again, EKU will be without fullback Jeremy James, safety Brandon Stanley and center Austin Jaggers.
Tight end Matt Lengel, corner Paul Ritter and receiver Ike Ariguzo are also all questionable for today’s game.
“We’ve got a ton of injuries,” Hood said. “But, our kids aren’t using that as an excuse or a crutch.”