OWENSBORO, Kentucky – Despite 401 yards of total offense, four turnovers held Central State to just one trip to the end zone in Saturday’s 21-7 road loss to Kentucky Wesleyan College.
The frustration to finish drives began early as the CSU offense forced an early KWC turnover on the first drive of the game. With the ball on KWC’s 8 yard line, CSU failed to come away with any points as the Panther defense kept the Marauders out of the end zone from the 1 yard line. CSU later manufactured a 14 play – 66 yard drive down to the KWC 25 yard line but once again were held scoreless again as the Panthers took over on downs with 14:52 left in the first half. The Marauders threatened again late in the first half, reaching the Panther’s 4 yard line thanks to a series of rushes by De’Michael Jackson, Mikiel Clemons and Marquis Wells. A false start backed CSU up to the 9-yard line and a failed field goal attempt with 21 seconds left sent the two teams into the locker room in a scoreless tie.
The Marauders accumulated for 178 yards of offense while the CSU defense held KWC to just 28 total yards in the first 30 minutes of play. While the offense had no problem moving the ball, the Marauders were 0 for 3 on fourth down attempts and were just 2 of 8 on third down conversions.
The Marauder defense forced a quick three-and-out to open the third quarter, giving the offense prime field position at the Panther 37 yard line. CSU finally took advantage of excellent field position as Lavon Meeks connected with Marquis Wells for 19 yards through the air and later scrambled for a score from 2 yards out to give the Marauders a 7-0 lead at the 8:39 mark of the third quarter.
With 2:27 remaining in the third quarter, KWC’s passing attack struck when DaMarcus Smith found Keelan Cole for an 81 yard touchdown pass to tie the game, 7-7. On their next drive, Smith led KWC on a 87 yard scoring drive capped off with a 25 yard pass to Cole at the 12:54 mark of the fourth quarter to take the lead, 14-7. After a heathy kick return by Clim Robbins, the CSU offense began their drive near midfield. Wells took a hand off 25 yards down to the KWC 24 yard line. Full back Darius Meadors rumbled down to the 8 yard line. The Panther defense forced another fourth and goal situation and Tim Patterson picked off Meeks at the goal line to keep his team up by 7 with 10:08 remaining.
With just under 3 minutes left, CSU marched down to the Panther 36 yard line but hopes of a potential game-tying touchdown drive were dashed when Meeks’ was intercepted by Da’vonta Moffit and returned down to the CSU 12 yard line. Josiah Isreal scored three plays later to put the Panthers up, 21-7, with 2:16 remaining. Meeks was picked up once more by KWC’s Martin Mills on the next drive and the Panthers ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Kentucky Wesleyan was led by Cole’s 5 receptions for 155 yards and two scores. Smith completed 11 passes for 188 yards on the afternoon. The KWC defense was led by Patterson’s 9 tackles and an interception as the Panthers improved to 1-4 overall.
De’Michael Jackson and Moses Vines led a Marauder rushing attack that combined for 314 yards. Jackson ran for 150 yards on 28 attempts, recording his fourth straight game of 100 or more rushing yards. Vines had 18 carries for 85 yards. Despite a 20 minute advantage in time of possession and twice as many offensive yards, CSU dropped to 0-5 on the season.
The Marauders travel to Fairfield, Ala. to take on defending SIAC champion Miles College (2-1; 1-0) next Saturday at 1 pm cst.
* – Saturday marked the eighth meeting between KWC and CSU. The series is now even at 4-4.
* – KWC celebrated its homecoming on Saturday. For CSU, Saturday was the first of three straight weekend’s the Marauders will part of homecoming festivities. CSU travels to Miles next week during the Bears’ homecoming celebration. On Oct. 15, CSU returns to McPherson Stadium for their own homecoming festivities.
* – Despite an 0-5 mark, the Marauder offense has combined for 350 or more yards in four of five games this year.