The Richmond Register

November 3, 2013

OVC FOOTBALL: EKU posts first shutout in eight years, tops TSU, 44-0

By Nathan Hutchinson
Nathan Hutchinson Register Sports Editor

RICHMOND — Tennessee State had the top-ranked defense in the Ohio Valley Conference heading into an important late-season showdown with EKU Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.

But, it was the Colonels’ defense that put together a historic performance.

Jared McClain had three touchdown passes as EKU (6-3, 4-1 OVC) took over sole possession of second place in the league with a 44-0 win over the No. 23 Tigers (7-3, 4-2). The Colonels forced four turnovers, including a fumble they returned for a touchdown, and limited Tennessee State to just 172 yards of total offense.

It was the first shutout for EKU in eight years (2005 against Tennessee State) and the team’s first home shutout since Roy Kidd’s final season (2002 against Glenville State).

“Their defense is amazing and we knew that coming into the game,” EKU defensive lineman Shawn Shupperd said of Tennessee State. “So, we played as if we had to shut them out to win the game. Our offense did a great job.”

The win was the fourth-straight for the Colonels.

And once again, it was the defense that led the charge.

Tennessee State got into the red zone just one time and was 4-of-16 on third downs. The Tigers were limited to just 2.7 yards a play and had seven fumbles.

In the past 17 quarters, the Colonels have allowed only two touchdowns and a total of 20 points.

“It’s hard to get a shutout, especially against the No. 23 ranked team,” EKU coach Dean Hood said. “They are a good football team. They’ve beaten some good football teams. Coach (Tony) Hatmaker and the defensive staff did a great job and our guys did a tremendous job executing it.”

During this winning streak, the Colonels have allowed just 200 yards a game (800 yards in four games).

“(Getting a shutout) means a lot to the seniors,” Shupperd said. “We haven’t had one since we’ve been here.”

McClain hit Devin Borders on a 16-yard touchdown pass mid-way through the first quarter to put EKU up 7-0.

Then the defense added to that lead.

TSU’s Weldon Garlington caught a pass on the right sideline and had the ball stripped by Chris Owens. Sophomore defensive back Paul Ritter picked up the ball and followed the blocking of Tyrelle Johnson into the end zone for his first college touchdown.

“The ball came out, I saw the opportunity and I scooped it up,” Ritter said.

The Tigers came into the game allowing just 15.8 points a game and just 296.2 yards a game.

Still, they couldn’t slow down the Colonels.

Borders caught a 26-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, then Ike Ariguzo caught a 1-yard TD pass and J.J. Jude scored on a 1-yard run before halftime to give EKU a 34-0 lead at the break.

“Nobody was running the ball, so you had to make plays in the passing game and I thought Jared McClain played great,” Hood said. “He threw the ball up and Devin Borders and Jeff Glover went up and got it. I thought our kids made big plays in the passing game.”

Borders had caught just five passes in the past three games and hadn’t scored a touchdown in more than a month.

“I’ve definitely been in a drought, so to speak,” Borders said. “I was a little home sick for the end zone, but it feels nice to get back in there.”

Tennessee State had won three of the past four meetings with the Colonels, including a 23-20 victory in Nashville last year.

That loss probably cost EKU a trip to the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.

“What happened to us last year, we were heartbroken over that loss,” McClain said. “We remembered it.”

With Murray State’s loss to UT-Martin on Saturday, the Colonels are the only one-loss team in the OVC.

Defending champion Eastern Illinois (8-1, 5-0 OVC) remains in second place and controls its own destiny.

EKU is set to return to action Saturday at Jacksonville State (7-2, 3-2 OVC).