RICHMOND, Ky. – Eastern Kentucky University’s football team rushed for 379 yards and the Colonel defense stymied a potent Tennessee State University passing game for three quarters in a 42-16 victory at Roy Kidd Stadium on Saturday.
Senior Daryl McCleskey rushed for a career-best 202 yards and scored two touchdowns for EKU (3-2, 1-0 OVC). He was the first Colonel to eclipse the 200-yard rushing mark since Dy’Shawn Mobley ran for 224 yards against Murray State on Nov. 15, 2014. McCleskey averaged 12.6 yards per carry.
Alonzo Booth carried the ball 12 times for 115 yards and also scored two touchdowns.
Tennessee State came into the game averaging 32 points and 328 passing yards per game. Eastern held the Tigers to 128 passing yards through three quarters while building a 28-16 advantage. Forced to attempt 18 passes in the fourth quarter in hopes of staging a comeback, TSU added 142 to its total and finished with 270 passing yards for the game. Tennessee State came into the contest averaging 462 yards of offense, but was held to 382 on Saturday.
The Eastern Kentucky defense also forced three turnovers.
The Colonels built a solid halftime advantage by scoring three touchdowns and holding TSU to three first-half field goals. The touchdown exchange for field goals began after the Tigers hit a 28-yard field goal on the first possession of the game. Facing a 3rd-and-3, Parker McKinney found a cutting Jackson Beerman over the middle for first down yardage, however Beerman broke two tackles and turned it into a 26-yard touchdown reception.
TSU drew within one, 7-6, with a field goal early in the second quarter, but the Colonels had the answer again. McCleskey got the drive off to a good start when he gained 34 yards on 2nd-and-9. Booth took the ball to the seven-yard line with a 26-yard run three plays later. McKinney finished off the drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. The extra-point made it 14-6.
Another field goal got the visitors within five but EKU answered right back with a quick touchdown drive. On the fourth play, Booth broke loose for a 40-yard scoring run and a 21-9 Eastern advantage.
McCleskey’s 9-yard touchdown run with 4:08 left in the third quarter gave the Colonels a 28-9 lead. This time it was the Tigers who answered. Te’kendrick Roberson capped a 6-play, 63-yard drive with an 8-yard touchdown run to make it 28-16.
Booth scored on a 13-yard run early in the fourth quarter to stretch the margin to 19, 35-16. The Tigers were trying to keep it interesting, driving to the EKU five-yard line on their next possession. However, Corey Glass stripped the ball and Malik Mays picked it up and raced 64 yards in the other direction. Eastern Kentucky couldn’t turn the turnover into points, but by the time TSU got the ball back only 10:27 remained in the game and the visitors still trailed by 19.
McCleskey’s second touchdown was set up by his own 68-yard run to the TSU 17. After Booth picked up six yards, McKinney connected with McCleskey for 10 and then the senior running back carried it home from five yards out. The extra-point set the final score with 5:11 left on the clock.
Daulson Fitzpatrick finished off the defensive effort for the Colonels with an interception and 28-yard return with just over two minutes to go.
McKinney finished 13-for-24 for 131 yards and no interceptions. He threw a touchdown pass and ran for a score. Beerman caught three passes for 46 yards to go along with his touchdown. Aaron Patrick had eight tackles for Eastern, including a pair of sacks. Glass also had eight stops.
Cameron Rosendahl went 20-for-41 for 270 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns passes for Tennessee State. Chris Rowland had 95 receiving yards on eight catches. Seth Rowland totaled 71 rushing yards.
The Colonels will host Tennessee-Martin next Saturday for Homecoming. The game will get underway at 3 p.m.