Sam Hayworth grew up in Florida.

But, he had never, however, had to kick in conditions as poor as he faced last Saturday in Charleston, Ill.

"The special teams usually come out early and there were puddles all over the field," Hayworth said. "We had to switch our kicking position because the hash marks were flooded completely. It was fun for about five minutes."

The monsoon-style rain didn't slow down the redshirt senior.

Hayworth hit four field goals -- all in the second half -- as the Colonels (5-3, 3-1 OVC) picked up a very important 33-6 win over Eastern Illinois.

The senior had a field goal attempted blocked in the first half but hit from 35, 28 and 23 yards after halftime and was 3-of-3 on extra-point attempts.

Hayworth finished with 15 points, which was one shy of the program record for kicking points (16) in game, which was set in Jamie Lovett in 1983 against Youngstown State.

"Sam did a great job," EKU coach Mark Elder said. "We have all the faith in the world in Sam."

On Sunday, Hayworth was named the OVC Specialist of the Week for the third time in his career.

Hayworth had attempted only three field goals through the first six games of the season.

The senior was 2-for-2 two weeks ago at Murray State, including a 38-yarder.

The rain let up in the second half against Eastern Illinois, but the balls were still waterlogged and heavy.

"At a certain point, it's like they can't hold any more water," Hayworth said of the footballs. "Props to (holder) Phillip Richards and (long snapper) Alex Shelton. When they put it down, it felt like normal. Then, I kicked it and it was like, 'Oh gosh. That's like kicking a brick.'"

The conditions were miserable, but that didn't seem to bother the EKU defense either.

The Colonels limited Eastern Illinois (0-9, 0-5) to just 89 total yards of offense. Alonzo Booth scored his league-leading 11th rushing touchdown as EKU stayed in a three-way tie for second place in the Ohio Valley Conference with a big road victory.

"The weather clearly played a part in this game," Elder said in a postgame radio interview. "It was wet. It was a cold wet and it was windy. So, to give up just 89 total yards in a game, that's pretty good. I'm proud of them. I think we out-played them in all three phases."

It was an impressive defensive performance, no doubt.

Eastern Illinois was 0-for-15 on third-down attempts, had two turnovers and averaged just 1.53 yards a play.

After Hayworth connected on a 23-yard field goal in the fourth quarter, the Colonels had almost as many points (33) as the Panthers had total yards of offense (34).

The final statistics were a bit distorted because the Panthers picked up six of their eight first downs and more than 50 yards on the final drive of the game after EKU had taken out many of its starters.

Eastern Illinois scored on a 10-yard catch by Isaiah Hill with 57 seconds left.

That touchdown ended EKU's attempt to snap a long shutout drought.

The Colonels have not held an opponent scoreless since Oct. 4, 2014 -- a streak of 57 games.

The Panthers finished with the second-fewest total yards in team history. The school record was 76 yards in 1973.

EIU had 40 rushing yards on 30 attempts -- an average of 1.3 yards a carry.

"We made it really hard for them to run the football and we didn't have a sack," Elder said.

EKU's offense was not great either on a sloppy afternoon.

It certainly was good enough, though. especially when given short fields over and over by the defense.

The Colonels finished with 279 yards of offense, 265 of which came on the ground. Daryl McCleskey, the OVC's leading rusher, finished with 79 yards on 18 attempts. Booth had 73 yards on 21 attempts.

Ellis Cain and quarterback Parker McKinney both had rushing touchdowns.

"We were able to run the ball when they knew we were going to run the football," Elder said.

McKinney was just 2-of-9 passing for 14 yards with an interception.

EKU had a 14-0 lead at halftime after a 7-yard touchdown run by Booth and a 17-yard TD run by McKinney.

Hayworth hit a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter, then connected three more times in the final period. Cain scored on a 1-yard TD run with 4:56 left in the game.

The Colonels are tied for second place with SEMO (3-1) and Austin Peay (3-1). All three teams are a half game behind UT-Martin (4-1).

EKU returns home Saturday to take on Austin Peay at Roy Kidd Stadium. Game time is set for 1 p.m.

React to this story:


Recommended for you