This feature focuses on the teams in the Ohio Valley Conference each week. Interviews are conducted during the OVC teleconference.
Northern Illinois beat Eastern Illinois 38-10 on Saturday, but the Panthers did keep six points off the board thanks to two blocked field goals. The first one was in the first half when defensive end David Johnson got a good jump and got his hand on the ball to knock it down. Then in the third quarter, Levi Watson knocked away a field goal attempt.
EIU coach Kim Dameron said the team works on blocking field goals in practice.
"The timing has to be right and the flight of the ball has to be right. I just like the way that group went out and competed," Dameron said. "A lot of blocking field goals is deciding you want to go and do it. The blocked field goals, those are some positive things and to have those guys not give up, they played every snap like its their last."
No. 22 Tennessee State (2-0)
After beating Georgia State in the first week, the Tigers needed a spark against Jackson State on Saturday. Wide receiver Patrick Smith provided the spark, this time on special teams. With 5:03 to play, Smith returned a punt 56 yards for the touchdown for a 17-9 lead. It proved to be the game-winning score for the Tigers. Smith added three receptions for 46 yards.
Smith was named the OVC specialist of the week.
"Any time Pat touches the ball, he has the opportunity to be electric for us," TSU coach Rod Reed said. "We just have to do a good job blocking for him and have to find a way to get him the ball more."
Now the Tigers travel to Florida A&M for a game in Tampa Bay, which is dealing with the the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. Currently, the game is still scheduled to be played.
"Our heart goes out to the people not only in the Tampa area, but also Jacksonville and Texas," Reed said. "We have a couple of guys from the Orlando area and Tampa area. Hopefully this game will bring something good with all of the bad that happened. As far as I know, everything is a go and we are preparing like it's a go and it's a tough situation for everyone there."
No. 5 Jacksonville State (1-1)
The Gamecocks offense struggled against Georgia Tech with only 189 yards of offense in the 37-10 loss. JSU had three turnovers in the loss and all three came from quarterback Bryant Horn, who was making his second career start. Horn was 8-of-13 passing for 73 yards and a touchdown. He threw two interceptions, though, and fumbled once.
"There's a lot of things going into that. Receivers and the situations. He will learn from it," JSU coach John Grass said. "That's one of the things he has to do for us, not turn it over. You can't line up and beat anybody and turn it over. We gift wrapped points for them. It's something we will learn from and get better."
UT Martin (1-1)
UT Martin lost to Ole Miss 45-23 on Saturday, but got a big performance from running back Ladarius Galloway. UT Martin coach Jason Simpson was hoping to have Galloway and Jaimie Bowe share the running back duties this season, but Bowe went down with an injury in the preseason and is out for the year.
After rushing for 157 in the season-opener, Galloway rushed for 188 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries against Ole Miss. Galloway is the first UT Martin player to have back-to-back 150-plus rushing games since 2006. He is averaging 8.41 yards per carry.
Galloway was named the OVC offensive player of the week and newcomer of the week.
"I'm very pleased with his production and would love to have him and Jaimie back there," Simpson said. "What's fun about him is he is very low maintenance. He's a good student and good teammate and it's good to see kids work hard and have success. He competed very well. It's neat to go back to his home state and line up and play against an opponent that didn't want him and then have success against them."
Murray State (1-1)
The Racers offense had a tough day against Central Arkansas' defense as No. 15 UCA beat Murray State 41-13 on Saturday. UCA built a 31-6 halftime lead and Murray State didn't find the end zone until there was only 1:20 left in the fourth quarter. Murray State was held to 276 total yards with only 44 yards rushing and 232 yards passing.
"They whipped us pretty good. That was it," Murray State head coach Mitch Stewart said. "We had plans in place to eliminate some threats and some personnel matchups and they just whipped us. We did not play very well. When the opportunity was presented to us to make plays, we didn't. If you don't make those plays, it's a long night."
Eastern Kentucky (0-2)
EKU suffered it second loss of the season and both to FBS opponents. This time the Colonels lost to Kentucky 27-16, but senior linebacker Jeff Canady had a standout game. He had 13 tackles and recorded 1.5 sacks in the loss. Canady had a sack on third-and-8 during Kentucky's first possession of the second quarter with EKU leading 7-3. EKU added another score on the ensuing possession to take a 13-3 lead when Kentucky took control of the game.
Canady was named the OVC defensive player of the week.
"Jeff is a consistent guy and is the heart and soul of the defense," EKU coach Mark Elder said. "He's had a bunch of tackles and is a really smart football player. This is what we expect to see from him as a veteran guy. His game has taken a step forward. His game has gone to the next level and that's what you want to see."
Austin Peay (0-2)
For the second straight week, Austin Peay faced an FBS opponent. This time Miami (Ohio) beat Austin Peay 31-10. Now after two straight FBS opponents, the Governors face Morehead State, a non-scholarship team from the Pioneer League.
Non-scholarship or not, Will Healy said his squad isn't taking Morehead State lightly since Austin Peay has lost 29 straight games.
"I think the one thing I dont have to worry about is our guys overlooking anyone," Healy said. "We've lost 29 straight games so if you are overlooking anyone, you are delirious. I was at Richmond and we played a non-scholarship team and they whooped our butt. They have some good transfers and we can't overlook someone. We have to win games."
Tennessee Tech (0-2)
The Golden Eagles had no problem getting yards against Kennesaw State's defense on Saturday. Tech just couldn't finish the drives the way they wanted to as Kennesaw State won 27-14.
Tech had 420 yards of total offense, but turned the ball over five times, each time after a lengthy drive to put the Golden Eagles in Kennesaw State territory. Tech had three interceptions and two fumbles lost.
"We had a fumbled snap and didn't fall on it, completed a pass and then fumbled it on the 18-yard line and had two boneheaded interceptions," Tech coach Marcus Satterfield said. "We were self-inflicted on four of five of them and if you do that, you don't have a shot."
Southeast Missouri State (0-2)
The Redhawks struggled with penalties on Saturday in their 25-23 loss to Dayton on Saturday. SEMO put together 390 yards of total offense, but the Redhawks were penalized eight times for 84 yards, which helped limit SEMO's production.
"We have to play smarter. You can't have stupid penalties," SEMO coach Tom Matukewicz said. "That was the number one thing we have to try and fix. You try and coach the team on how the league is officiated. When you go out of the conference, there's differences. We weren't able to get it adjusted and it will be a point of emphasis now."