The Colonels can’t re-write history.
And they know that.
But a late-season surge has put EKU in a position to reconnect with the school’s legendary football tradition.
After finishing last season with a losing record for the first time in 32 years, the Colonels (5-5, 4-2 Ohio Valley Conference) can secure a winning record with a victory in today’s season finale against Austin Peay (2-8, 1-6) at Roy Kidd Stadium.
Game time is set for 1 p.m.
“We feel really fortunate and excited about the position we are in because one of our seniors' biggest goals this season was to get the streak back,” Eastern Kentucky University coach Dean Hood said.
Just a few weeks ago it seemed very likely that the Colonels would end up with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since 1964.
But three-straight wins, including an upset win over No. 2 Jacksonville State and a victory last week on the road against Tennessee Tech, have given EKU a chance to finish with a winning record for the 42nd time in the past 44 years.
“I think after the SEMO game we just all kind of locked arms and were like, ‘This is Eastern Kentucky, and we have a winning tradition. It’s time to start something new,’” EKU senior defensive lineman Andrew Soucy said. “That was kind of our theme the whole last part of the season.”
Reconnecting to that tradition is especially important to the 13 seniors who today will be playing in their final game.
With a win over Peay, the Colonels will not only finish with a 6-5 record, but will complete the season undefeated at home for the first time since 2007.
“We just want to go out on a good note and give the fans something that they are used to,” EKU senior offensive lineman Chris Krack said.
The Colonels hadn’t won on the road in more than 13 months before snapping an eight-game road skid last week at Tennessee Tech. EKU allowed 554 yards of total offense, but got five touchdowns (four passing, one rushing) from standout sophomore quarterback T.J. Pryor.
Sophomore receivers Orlandus Harris and Tyrone Goard each had two touchdown catches in the 42-29 win.
The Colonels entered the game with the best rush defense in the OVC (108 yards a game), but allowed 281 yards rushing.
“We didn’t break,” Soucy said. “You can talk all day about how many yards we gave up, but how many times they get in the end zone is ultimately what wins the game.”
While the Colonels have won five of their past seven games, Austin Peay has been freefalling down the OVC standings. After winning their league opener against Tennessee State (26-23 on Sept. 18), the Governors have lost seven straight games.
Last week, Peay gave up 673 yards of offense and suffered a 61-35 loss at home to Murray State.
Despite the losing streak, senior running back and return specialist Terrence Holt has once again put together a tremendous season.
Holt is the Football Championship Subdivision's all-time kick return yardage leader (4,634 yards) and last week, became the first player in FCS history to have four straight years of 1,000 or more kick return yards.
The senior also has more all-purpose yards (7,272) then any other active FCS player.
In the loss to Murray State, Holt rushed 14 times for 140 yards and scored three touchdowns (44, 50 and 5 yards). Holt had 338 all-purpose yards, including 189 yards on kickoffs.
During the loss to Murray State, senior quarterback Trent Caffee left the game with a neck injury and had to go to the hospital. He was released from St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville on Monday. T.C. Jennings, a quarterback/wide receiver, is expected to start against EKU.
“Trent is back home,” Austin Peay coach Rick Christophel said Monday. “It was a scary thing. The good thing is all the prognosis is good and, as a matter of fact, he came by to see (the coaching staff) a little this morning. Everything is going well.”
The Colonels had dominated the series with Peay, winning 22 straight, until they suffered a 24-20 loss last season in Clarksville, Tenn. last year.
That setback started a late-season skid that resulted in EKU losing four of its final five games.
“Peay is good team,” Soucy said. “They’ve had some bad breaks, too. They’ve played some teams close. They had our number last year. We went down there thinking we were going to whoop up on them, but they came out and demoralized us.”
The Colonels still lead the all-time series with Peay 38-4.
The season-finale will be the final game for 13 EKU seniors — Evan Cromer, Jordan Dalrymple, Shannon Davis, Robert Dees, Antonio Fredrick, Bruce Frieson, Jaren Gooden, Chris Krack, Ronnie Letcher, Logan O’Connor, Andrew Soucy, Yameen Thomas and Marcus Williams.