By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
Bryce Krebs delivered the emphatic exclamation point on a dominant defensive performance for the Colonels Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.
Late in the fourth quarter, the sophomore defensive tackle blasted through the line and stuffed Tennessee Tech’s Cody Forbes on a fourth-and-one at midfield.
“It was a great play call for the situation,” Krebs said. “We’ve been working on situations like that in practice. So, when I got the ball call, it just happened. It just worked out.”
That play, which was the Colonels’ third fourth-down stop of the game, all but wrapped up an important Ohio Valley Conference victory.
The Colonels (4-3, 2-1 OVC) got two rushing touchdowns from quarterback Jared McClain and a TD pass by wide receiver Jeff Glover in a 24-10 Homecoming victory at Roy Kidd Stadium.
And once again, EKU’s defense was rock-solid, especially against the run.
The Colonels limited the Golden Eagles (3-5, 0-4 OVC) to just 27 yards rushing and only 200 total yards.
“We’ve been revving it up defense,” EKU senior defensive lineman Anthony Brown said. “That’s our calling card — play great defense.”
The Colonels came into the game with the top rushing defense in the OVC (104.5 yards a game — 20th among FCS schools). They held the Golden Eagles to only 1.2 yards a rush and had eight tackles for loss (for 29 yards).
“We feel if we stop the run we are going to have a chance in every game,” Brown said. “We’ve been good in that phase the past couple of games. Hopefully we can keep it going the rest of the season.”
Since give up a stunning 339 yards rushing against Coastal Carolina on Sept. 14, the Colonels have been extremely tough to run on.
In a win over Austin Peay two weeks ago, EKU allowed six yards rushing on 25 carries. Since that loss to Coastal Carolina, the Colonels have given up just 182 yards on the ground on 102 attempts (1.784 yards a carry) in four games.
At halftime, the Golden Eagles had -14 yards rushing on Saturday. After three quarters, they had just -7 yards on the ground.
“They are doing up front what we thought (they would),” EKU coach Dean Hood said of his defense. “That’s the strength of our team. The front seven is where our veteran guys are. So, we’ve thought all year that we are going to be a pretty good run defense.”
Coming off an open week, the EKU offense wasn’t always sharp.
But, it was good enough.
On the first possession of the game, the Colonels put together a 10-play, 66-yard drive that featured a trio of third-down conversions.
McClain capped the drive with a 10-yard run where he faked a hand-off, then scrambled to his left and went into the end zone untouched.
Tech got a 29-yard field goal early in the second quarter. The score stayed 7-3 until McClain struck again late in the half.
This time McClain faked the hand-off and went right, squeezing just inside the pylon for a TD.
“That’s just a great credit to our run game,” McClain said of the touchdowns. “Our guys (are so good) that sometimes they forget about me. That makes my job easy, but credit those touchdowns to the offensive line and the running backs.”
Brown came up with an interception moments later and with just 27 seconds left before the half Andrew Lloyd connected on a 26-yard field goal to give the Colonels a 17-3 advantage.
EKU finished with 347 yards of total offense and 19 first down, but was only able to get in the end zone one more time.
Early in the fourth quarter, Glover took the ball from McClain and lofted a pass to Ike Ariguzo. The senior wide receiver fought off a defender and made the catch in the end zone for a 29-yard TD.
“Ike always tells me just to throw it up and give him a chance,” Glover said. “Unfortunately, I didn’t throw it up (all that great) for him. Ike is a great player and a strong man. So, he made a play on the ball. I’ve got to give him credit.”
Tech got a touchdown in the fourth quarter when Jared Davis hit Krys Cates on 16-yard TD pass.
The touchdown was the first the EKU defense had given up in eight quarters.
McClain was 11-of-19 for 169 yards and an interception. Glover had a team-best five catches for 64 yards and Devin Borders had three catches for 68 yards.
Brown had five tackles, a sack, an interception, a pass-breakup and two quarterback hurries.
The Colonels have won seven-straight Homecoming games and have won two-straight since a loss to Eastern Illinois in their OVC opener.
“We got the ‘W,’” McClain said. “That’s all the matters.”
EKU is set to return to action Saturday at Southeast Missouri State.