RICHMOND — "Never a doubt, boys."
Coach Dean Hood could afford to jest after his Eastern Kentucky Colonels rallied from a 21-point second-half deficit to edge Eastern Illinois 36-33 in overtime.
No. 16 EKU remains unbeaten, 6-0 overall and 3-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
"Every challenge, they accepted," Hood said, "and just willed the thing."
Andrew Lloyd won it with a 29-yard field goal, although he had to wait through back-to-back timeouts before making the kick.
"It was like more of a chip shot. They were trying to ice me," Lloyd said. "I went back to the net, got another kick in. They tried to ice me again. I went back to the net. I just treated it like practice. Stay calm, cool, collected and hit it through the uprights."
Lloyd got his opportunity after Eastern Illinois fumbled away its overtime possession.
"I had to come out with it," said Kiante Northington, who recovered for EKU. "It was my ball."
Eastern Illinois rang up 517 yards of offense to EKU's 436.
EKU was led by Dy'Shawn Mobley, the Kentucky transfer and OVC rushing leader, who ran 30 times for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
Never a doubt when Eastern Illinois led 26-5, Mobley said.
"I know how hard we work in practice," he said. "On and off the field, I know how hard we work. So I knew we could go out there and do it. We just had to stick together and play Colonel football."
Panthers quarterback Jalen Whitlow, also a transfer from UK, completed 26 of 40 passes for 247 yards and two scores. He also ran 14 times for 88 yards.
"Turnovers and just miscues," Whitlow said. "We should have won that game."
EIU (1-5, 1-1) had a 13-game OVC winning streak snapped.
Eastern Illinois led 23-5 at halftime.
Whitlow ran 12 yards for a second-quarter touchdown and passed 2 yards to Adam Drake for another, and Nick Bruno booted three first-quarter field goals.
The Colonels' only points came on a safety — Eastern Illinois snapped the ball out of the end zone on an attempted punt — and Lloyd's 24-yard field goal.
EKU, which came in allowing 88.6 rush yards a game, gave up 128 in the first-half alone. Whitlow led the Panthers with 48 yards on eight carries.
"The first half was really bad," Hood said. "We turned the ball over. We just couldn't establish the run. Defensively, we hung in there, but we just kept letting them out. We'd get some third downs where (if) we get a stop, then OK we're good; we get them to punt here. And then we'd let them out. Then it became where they're on the field and they're driving and they're kicking field goals."
After going 4-for-8 on third-down conversions in the first half, EIU was 1-for-8 the rest of the night.
"This is all about these kids believing," Hood said. "We talked about it at halftime: 'Guys, we've got the ability to play a better second half than they played first half. We've got that ability in this room. So all we've got to do is have faith and believe that we can do it, and we'll see it.'"
Bruno's fourth field goal gave the Panthers a 26-5 lead in the third quarter.
EKU got rolling on its next possession, Jared McClain scoring on a 28-yard scramble.
Fourth quarter, McClain hit Devin Borders with a 5-yard TD pass to cut the deficit to 26-19.
EIU's Bruno came on to attempt a 41-yard field goal, but Borders blocked the kick.
"It's really just the system," Borders said. "And then I just come in and jump. I've been doing that since I was a kid."
When EKU then had to punt, the ball was muffed, recovered by the Colonels' Jon Floyd. That, in turn, led to a game-tying 1-yard run by Mobley.
A 2-yard Mobley TD run with 4:46 left gave EKU a 33-26 lead.
EIU tied with 1:04 left on a 2-yard TD pass from Whitlow to Drake, who finished with 13 catches for 146 yards.
The Colonels would not be denied in overtime, though.
Said Mobley: "Our team just stuck together."
■ The EKU Athletics Hall of Fame enshrined its ninth induction class Saturday afternoon. The inductees were recognized during halftime of the football game. The induction class: Bobby Collins (men's basketball, 1984-88), Laphelia Doss (women's basketball, 1994-98), James Hand (football, 1991-96), Bill Hughes (football, 1975-80), Jennifer James Reichard (volleyball, 1988-91), Jamie King O'Shea (women's cross country/track & field, 1994-99) and Glenn Presnell (football and golf coach/athletics director, 1947-74). Also inducted was the 1940 football team, the first in program history to go undefeated (8-0).