Eastern Kentucky University plays its football home opener Thursday night but will do so without one of its top players.
Quarterback Bennie Coney, who came off the bench to give the Colonels’ offense a lift during its 45-24 season-opening loss at Purdue last Saturday, will sit out Thursday’s game against Pikeville as the result of an injury suffered in the defeat.
Coney took over for starter Maty Mauk after Mauk threw interceptions on EKU’s first two possessions. The senior completed 13 of 23 passes for 158 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game after absorbing a hard hit in the second half. Coach Mark Elder confirmed Tuesday that Coney would not be ready to play Thursday night.
Elder said Mauk or Tyler Swafford could start Thursday’s game.
While EKU is sifting through signal callers, the Colonels will be going against one of their own.
Pikeville is coached by former Colonels quarterback Allan Holland Jr. He led Eastern to back-to-back OVC titles in 2007 and 2008 and was named the league’s offensive player of the year in 2007. In three seasons as a Colonel (2006-08), Holland threw for 4,695 yards, fourth-most in program history.
Two of Holland’s assistants — offensive line coach Will Heineman (2002-05) and defensive line coach Andrew Soucy (2007-10) — both also played at EKU.
Pikeville enters Thursday’s game with a 2-0 record and a 1-0 mark in the Mid-South Conference. The Bears opened the season with a goal-line stand at the end of the game to preserve a 24-20 victory at Bluefield. UPike then knocked off No. 17 Campbellsville at home, 41-34.
The Pikeville offense is averaging 454 yards per game, including 331.5 through the air. Sani Warren, a 6-foot-1 junior quarterback from Belfry, leads the UPike offense. He has completed 69 percent of his passes for 652 yards.
Despite the lopsided score, Eastern Kentucky made a strong showing against Big Ten opponent Purdue last week. The Eastern Kentucky offense was stopped for a loss of yards just one time against Purdue and the offensive line did not allow a sack. Only four FCS teams in the nation began the season with just one negative play.
The Colonels fell behind 21-0 early but trimmed the deficit to 10 points entering the fourth quarter. Redshirt senior Kiante Northington had a game-high 11 tackles against the Boilermakers. Devin Borders enters Thursday’s game with 1,495 career receiving yards. He is 71 yards away from cracking Eastern’s top 10. The redshirt senior had seven catches for 77 yards at Purdue.
Pikeville at Eastern Kentucky
When: 7 p.m.
Where: Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond
Live video broadcast: OVCDigitalNetwork.com
Live audio broadcast: WCYO-FM 100.7 and EKUSports.com