Eastern rewind: 10th-ranked Chattanooga handles Panthers

Chattanooga quarterback Preston Hutchinson scored a pair of rushing touchdowns Saturday at O’Brien Field. (Photo by @GoMocsFB)

By Dan Verdun

Just over a week after taking FBS Northern Illinois down to the wire, Eastern Illinois opened its home schedule by falling to the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.

UTC (2-0), ranked No. 10 in the most recent FCS Coaches poll, rolled up 471 yards on offense as the Mocs pulled away in the second half for a 38-20 non-conference win.

The Mocs, picked to win the Southern Conference, rode a balanced attack led by quarterback Preston Hutchinson. The graduate transfer from Eastern Michigan passed for 278 yards and rushed for 64 yards. Hutchinson threw for a touchdown and also ran for two scores.

“We showed some good things early in the game, but certainly didn’t finish like we wanted to finish,” first-year EIU head coach Chris Wilkerson said afterward. “(There were) too many missed opportunities for us as a team to win against a quality opponent.”

Game changers

2nd quarter: Hutchinson completes a 46-yard pass to Tyler Smith to the EIU 5-yard line. Three plays later, Ailyn Ford scores on a 4-yard run with 12:32 on the clock as UTC take a 14-10 lead.

13:46, 2nd quarter: Hutchinson hooks up with Javin Whatley for a 51-yard touchdown pass, boosting the Mocs lead to 21-10.

13:00, 4th quarter: After Eastern had cut the Moc lead to eight points, freshman Andre Southard kicked a 45-yard field goal to put UTC back into a two-score lead.

What it means

The Panthers are off to an 0-2 start for the fifth consecutive season.

Prime Time Panthers

Prairie State Pigskin chooses the top three EIU players in the game:

Colin Bohanek, LB: The sophomore from Chicago Marist High School led EIU with 10 tackles and an interception.

Markenzy Pierre, RB: For the second straight game, the senior was EIU’s top rusher. Pierre carried the ball 17 times for 66 yards.

Trey Wilhoit, P: The junior college transfer averaged 46 yards per punt, including three kicks over 50 yards.

What’s next?

EIU (0-2) travels to Normal to play the annual Mid-America Classic rivalry game against Illinois State. The Redbirds (1-1) slipped past Valparaiso 28-21 in their home debut Saturday.

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