Dy'Shawn Mobley might be the guy that Eastern Kentucky University needs Saturday to get a leg up in the race for the Ohio Valley Conference football championship.
The transfer from Kentucky leads the league in rushing and is clearly the player of most concern to Jacksonville State Coach John Grass as the teams prepare for their first-place battle in Richmond.
"To me, the difference in them is the running back — he leads our conference in rushing and is one of the top in the country," Grass said of the 5-foot-11, 215-pound junior. "He is a transfer from Kentucky and he is the difference for them, and they didn't have that guy last year. He is a dominant player and is an SEC player playing in the OVC. We have to do a good job of getting him on the ground."
Mobley has rushed for 1,061 yards, in excess of 400 yards more than his nearest pursuer, DaMarcus James of Jacksonville State, who has 630.
Mobley, who averages a robust 6.2 yards per carry and has scored 14 touchdowns, was added this week to the watch list for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the top player in the Football Championship Subdivision.
The 15th-ranked Colonels have been rolling offensively. EKU scored a season-high 56 points at Tennessee State last week and has reached the 30-point plateau in seven straight games.
The Colonels' defense leads the nation with 27 turnovers forced.
Eastern Kentucky might need more than Mobley to turn the tables on Jacksonville State.
The Gamecocks, ranked No. 4 in FCS, beat the Colonels 68-10 last season, a game in which JSU scored on 11 of 14 possessions while the Colonels committed four turnovers.
The Gamecocks have not allowed a touchdown in nine straight quarters. They boast the OVC's No. 1 rushing defense, No. 1 scoring defense and No. 3 passing defense. They also lead the league in total offense and rushing.
Saturday's winner will have the inside track to the OVC's automatic bid to the FCS playoffs. Eastern Kentucky has won a league-best 21 OVC titles, with the last coming in 2011.
EKU is holding its first-ever "Blackout" promotion Saturday. Free black T-shirts will be given out to all fans in attendance while supplies last.