The college football season kicked off in Kentucky on Thursday night, and Eastern Kentucky University quickly turned some heads.
The Colonels ran roughshod over visiting Morehead State, piling up 404 yards on the ground on their way to a 49-23 win at Roy Kidd Stadium that was even more dominating than the final score would seem to indicate. Eastern Kentucky ran up an 18-0 lead in the first quarter and led 42-7 in the fourth before Morehead scored a pair of late touchdowns.
The Colonels ended the first quarter with a mission statement. They ran eight straight times on a drive that covered 78 yards in just over three minutes and culminated in a 4-yard TD by L.J. Scott., who finished the game with 86 yards and a pair of scores on 14 carries.
EKU’s ground attack was led by Daryl McCleskey, who racked up 127 yards and averaged 8.9 yards per carry. Six Colonels carried the ball at least four times, including Alonzo Booth and Ellis Cain, both of whom scored touchdowns.
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In his first two seasons at EKU, head coach Mark Elder wasn’t shy about using multiple quarterbacks, and it looks like year three will be no different. Redshirt freshman Dakota Allen started the game under center and piloted two series before giving way to Austin Scott, a redshirt sophomore who entered the season as the Colonels’ most experienced signal caller. The pair continued switching out the rest of the game, though both spent the bulk of their time handing off the ball.
Allen completed nine of 14 passes for 93 yards while Scott completed four of eight for 13 yards. Neither quarterback threw an interception and both tossed touchdowns to tight end Dan Paul, a redshirt senior who was named to the preseason coaches All-Ohio Valley Conference First Team.
Quarterback Alphonso Howard also got his feet wet. The sophomore junior-college transfer finished the game under center for the Colonels and completed both of his passes for 54 yards.
EKU’s defense looked sharp in the season opener as well. The Colonels allowed 332 yards of offense, much of which came after the game was out of hand. Preseason All-OVC defensive end Aaron Patrick looks like he’s back in top form after missing last season’s final eight games because of an undisclosed injury. Patrick had 2 1/2 sacks against the Eagles.
Morehead’s Jovan Smith rushed for 58 yards and a touchdown while Issiah Aguero scored on two of his six carries. Quarterback Lawson Page completed 20 of 34 passes for 221 yards and threw a pair of interceptions in the loss.