By Nathan Hutchinson
Register Sports Editor
The Colonels went for the big play right away.
And after an 84-yard touchdown pass just more than two minutes into the game, the disappointment that still lingered from last week’s loss at Tennessee State quickly evaporated.
From that point on, the Colonels were in complete control.
Senior quarterback T.J. Pryor set two more career passing records and All-American Matt Denham rushed for 114 yards and two touchdowns as EKU (5-2, 2-1 OVC) hammered winless Austin Peay (0-7, 0-5), 45-14, Saturday on Homecoming at Roy Kidd Stadium.
The Colonels had a 28-point lead in the second half and finished with 474 yards of total offense.
“When you have a loss like (last week at Tennessee State), you are either going to have a chink in your armor or the guys are going to lock arms and its going to make them stronger,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “I really feel like they had a resolve about them this week and they came out showed it.”
Last week’s 23-20 loss in Nashville knocked the preseason OVC favorites out of first place and made Tennessee State (7-0, 3-0) the front-runner for the title.
A lopsided victory certainly eased some of the sting of that setback.
“Last week was basically a wake-up call for us,” Pryor said. “We just had to come out this week and play harder.”
On their first play from scrimmage, the Colonels set the tone.
Pryor hit Cameron Bailey, who was wide open on the left sideline. The senior went untouched into the end zone.
“For a minute I thought (T.J.) was going to overthrow me,” Bailey said. “But, we talked about it before the game. I knew he was throwing with the wind and he threw a great ball.”
That touchdown pass was the longest of Pryor’s career and tied the senior with Jim Guice for the school’s career passing TD record (46).
After Denham scored on an 18-yard run in the first quarter, Pryor broke the school’s all-time completions record (478 — Josh Greco) on a 28-yard TD pass to Tyrone Goard with 11:01 left before halftime.
Two weeks ago, the senior set the school record for career passing yards (6,547).
“It feels great,” Pryor said. “Those records are awesome. I just wish I could have all my teams on (the record too). It just feels great.”
Denham scored again, this time on a 5-yard run, with 5:47 left in the second, giving EKU a 28-7 lead at halftime.
The Colonels had 302 total yards of offense in the first half.
Justin Bell ended any thought of a Peay comeback early in the second half. The senior defensive back got his hands on a tipped ball and went 16 yards for a touchdown.
“There was nobody out there, so I just hustled over to make the play,” Bell said. “He tipped it up and it went into my hands.”
That gave the Colonels a comfortable 35-7 lead.
Luke Pray connected on a 29-yard field goal with 24 seconds left in the third and Xavier Foster scored on a 4-yard run in opening minutes of the fourth quarter.
The Governors have given the Colonels trouble in recent years.
Austin Peay beat EKU in 2009 and 2011 at home and the previous two games at Roy Kidd Stadium were also very competitive as well — 2008, 13-10 win in OT; 2010, 17-3 win.
“We haven’t played our best games against them, but coming out here today we knew we had to stay focused,” Pryor said.
Austin Peay hasn’t won in Richmond since 1977.
Pryor was 8-of-13 for 232 yards. Bailey had 125 yards on three catches and Nathan Watts had three catches for 85 yards.
After Saturday’s action, three teams are tied for second place in the OVC behind Tennessee State — EKU (3-1), Eastern Illinois (3-1) and UT-Martin (3-1).
The Colonels are set to return to action Saturday at Tennessee Tech.
“The OVC is always great,” Pryor said. “Any team can beat any team. We’ve just got to keep fighting.”