MOREHEAD — J.J. Jude surprised himself with a big night for Eastern Kentucky, running for 195 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-24 rout of Morehead State on Saturday.
"I did not realize it," Jude said when told his rushing total. "I was just running the ball and the line was blocking great, and I was having a good time."
Jude, a 5-foot-9, 191-pound redshirt freshman out of Johnson Central, came into the game with three-game totals of 19 carries and 85 yards, with no touchdowns.
"All my family could make it down to the game," said Jude, who estimated more than 25 such members were in the Jayne Stadium stands. "And it just felt good to get back there and just run the ball again."
Never miss a local story.
EKU (2-2), beating the Eagles for the eighth time in a row and 26th time in 27 meetings, now leads the all-time series 51-16-4.
In addition to Jude's four scores, Jared McClain threw a pair of touchdown passes to Devin Borders. Thomas Owens and Jared Sanders each ran for fourth-quarter touchdowns.
Morehead (0-4), down 21-14 at halftime, pulled to within 21-17 early in the third quarter.
Then the Eagles thought they had a stop — until Caleb Watkins took a short snap in punt formation and scampered 34 yards for a first down.
That kept alive a drive that would end in a 5-yard TD pass from McClain to Borders.
The same combination clicked from 15 yards to make it 35-17 through three quarters.
The closest Morehead came after that was 35-24 on Logan Johnson's 14-yard scoring pass to Jake Raymond early in the fourth quarter.
Both teams were coming off poor showings with gaudy numbers.
Jacksonville gained 719 yards in a 69-19 victory over Morehead, while Coastal Carolina piled up 631 yards in a 51-32 rout at Eastern.
Saturday, EKU finished with a 606-349 advantage, including 345-37 on the ground.
"We just didn't get any stops on defense in the third quarter. Early on we did; later on in the third I think it got away from us a little bit," MSU Coach Rob Tenyer said. "But real proud of our guys."
McClain finished 17-for-26, good for 250 yards. He also ran four times for 27 yards.
"J.J. did a great job, but we've still got three guys behind him that can still make some plays and do some things," McClain said. "So again, it's running by committee. Whoever has the hot hand, that's probably who we'll go with. All of them did a great job. Give credit to the offensive line because they made those holes and those alleyways for them."
Jude had all of EKU's touchdowns, as well as 129 yards on 23 carries, en route to a 21-14 halftime lead.
EKU Coach Dean Hood thought his team was playing well, but Morehead had played the half of its life.
He told his players, "'We just need to play Colonel football in the second half, and play better, and we'll be OK.' And that's what the kids did."
Jude scored on runs of 2, 5 and 11 yards in the first half, and from 17 in the fourth quarter.
"They've got about six 300-pound guys over there," Tenyer said of EKU's offensive line. "That was the difference tonight. They're a good football team and that's what they do — they run the ball."
The Colonels came close to doubling the halftime lead, driving to the Morehead 12 in the final minute. But Trey Watkins came up with an end-zone interception with six seconds left.
Jude opened the scoring with his 2-yard run, capping a drive that started after a Chris Owens interception.
Then, Jason Fergerson blocked a Morehead punt to set up EKU on the Eagles' 30-yard line. That led to Jude's 5-yard score and a 14-0 lead with 2:29 left in the first quarter.
Morehead halved the deficit in the final minute of the quarter, with Austin Gahafer finding Kitaro Lewis all alone for a 32-yard TD pass.
Jude's 11-yard scoring jaunt with 5:06 left in the half made it 21-7 for the Colonels.
Morehead rallied, getting a Gahafer scoring pass of 7 yards to Rees Macshara with 1:17 left in the half. Along the way, the Eagles converted a pair of fourth downs, including a fake punt play.