A big play on special teams provided the Colonels the spark they badly needed just before the half on Saturday against Houston Baptist at Roy Kidd Stadium.
It was a big breakdown on special teams later, however, that ended a spirited comeback in heartbreaking fashion.
EKU scored 23 second-half points before a would-be game-tying extra point was blocked with a 4:04 left in regulation, allowing the Huskies (1-3) to hold on for a 33-30 win.
Houston Baptist racked up 520 yards of total offense, including 380 yards passing, led by as much as 17 points and never trailed, but needed several key plays in the closing minutes to claim victory.
"We can't have those miscues on special teams," EKU coach Walt Wells said of the blocked extra point. "That's routine. We've got to do our jobs better."
The Colonels did a remarkable job of battling back.
EKU trailed 14-0 just nine minutes into the game and went into halftime down 24-7.
After Keyion Dixon caught a 27-yard touchdown pass with 4:04 left, the Colonels were within a point of pulling even. Alexander Woznick's point-after attempt was blocked.
Even worse, the Huskies picked it up and ran it back for a two-point conversion - giving them a three-point lead.
EKU still had life, though.
Houston Baptist was unable to pick up a first down on the ensuing drive and punted. Two plays later, quarterback Parker McKinney was hit while scrambling and fumbled.
It was the third (and final) turnover for the Colonels.
"We had opportunities. We've just got to do a better job of protecting the football," Wells said. "They stole three possessions from us. We didn't steal any from them."
HBU got on the board first with a 8-yard pass from Bailey Zappe to Vernon Harrell in the first quarter. McKinney was intercepted moments later and the Huskies scored two plays later on a 42-yard TD catch by Jerreth Sterns.
Matt Wilcox Jr., caught a 10-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter, but just before the half HBU appeared in position to take a commanding lead.
Another interception by McKinney gave the Huskies the ball on the EKU 27-yard line with 33 seconds left. The Huskies lined up for a field goal on the final play and Kabbash Richards knocked it down.
The Colonels trailed 24-7, but sprinted into the locker room on a high note.
"It gave us momentum. It was still a three-score game. It gave us some life," Wells said. "We felt like could play with them."
Wilcox had another touchdown catch in the third quarter- a 7-yarder this time - and Woznick kicked a 26-yard field goal to get the Colonels within a score at 24-17.
Sterns had a 65-yard touchdown catch in the final minute of the third quarter. The Colonels answered back less than three minutes later with a 29-yard touchdown run by Alonzo Booth.
"I'm very proud of how the kids fought back. They could have quit at halftime and gave up. They came out in the second half really ready to go," Wells said.
HBU's offense - which had scored more than 30 points in every game this season - slashed EKU's defense for 328 yards and 18 first downs in the first half.
The Colonels regrouped at halftime.
The Huskies had only six first downs and less than 200 yards of offense from that point on.
"It was just execution," EKU linebacker Matthew Jackson said. "We knew they had a high-powered offense. We knew they were going to make plays. We just had to claim down, do our assignments and make the plays we should have been making."
That defensive turnaround helped the Colonels battle back.
Matthews led the charge. He finished with 15 tackles, one tackle-for-loss and two pass breakups.
"Holding them to one touchdown in the second half was a great accomplishment," Wells said of HBU, which scored 38 points last week against FBS opponent Louisiana Tech and almost beat Texas Tech (35-33).
The Colonels had 480 yards of total offense (296 passing) with 26 first downs.
Booth had 108 yards rushing on 17 attempts. McKinney completed 25-of-40 passes for three touchdowns and two interceptions, while also rushing for 59 yards.
Jacquez Jones had seven catches for 54 yards. Dixon had 112 yards on six catches and Jackson Beerman had six catches for 84 yards.
Zappe was 35-of-46 for 380 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.
Harrell (98 yards) and Sterns (93) both had 10 receptions.
The Colonels will be off next week before traveling to Troy University on Oct. 17 at Roy Kidd Stadium.
The game marked the end of HBU's fall schedule. The Southland Conference is planning to play a conference schedule in the spring.