Daryl McCleskey Jr., delivered a big play on offense.
Corey Glass followed with a momentum-changing play on defense.
And less than three minutes into the Thursday’s season opener against Valparaiso the Colonels already had a big lead.
“There was a lot of energy,” McCleskey said. “Everybody was having fun. We were swarming out there.”
It was a fun evening for the Colonels.
In front of a crowd of more than 11,000, EKU rolled to a 53-7 win over the Crusaders.
The Colonels finished with 333 yards on the ground as they extended their winning streak to five games.
Redshirt sophomore Alonzo Booth had three touchdowns, while McCleskey and Jason Lewis also scored rushing TDs.
“We rushed the ball really well,” EKU coach Mark Elder said. “When we got our running backs into space, that was where we took advantage of the match-up. Those were our bigger plays.”
McCleskey got into open space on the fourth play from scrimmage.
The senior running back came around the right side and went 64 yards for a touchdown.
“We kind of set them up,” McCleskey said. “We were on the left hash and we ran left. I got the ball and I saw the blocks line up.”
Two plays later, the defense came up with a big play.
Steven Crowder knocked the ball away from Valpo quarterback Chris Duncan. Glass picked up the fumble and went 29 yards for a score.
“I just saw the end zone. It was just scoop and go,” Glass said.
With 12:17 left in the first quarter, EKU had a 15-0 lead.
Booth scored twice in the second quarter — on runs of 10 and 2 yards — and Sam Hayworth added a 31-yard field goal to give the Colonels a 32-0 advantage at halftime.
Oregon State transfer Conor Blount started for EKU at quarterback, but redshirt freshman Parker McKinney also got significant playing time.
Blount was 6-of-11 for 62 yards with an interception. McKinney was 6-of-8 for 33 yards and an interception.
“That was the plan,” Elders said of the quarterbacks. “Parker had a great camp as well. We anticipate him playing a role for us. We want him and the other guys to stay sharp.”
Duncan connected with Ollie Reese on a 61-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter to get the Crusaders on the board.
The Colonels got a touchdown run by Lewis, then added two more scores in the fourth quarter.
Booth broke loose on a career-long 86-yard touchdown run. The play was the exact same one McCleskey scored on early in the game.
“When I got the call, my tight end just said, ‘Follow me,’” Booth said.
Booth had 128 yards on seven carries. McCleskey had 69 yards on four carries and Lewis finished with 44 yards on 11 carries.
The Colonels averaged 8.5 yards a carry.
EKU is set to hit the road for a difficult three-game road trip. The Colonels will take on Louisville next week before match-ups with Indiana State and Presbyterian.