Eastern recap: Panthers complete year one under head coach & alum Wilkerson

Former Eastern Illinois player and assistant coach Chris Wilkerson made his return to Charleston to lead the Panther program. (Photo by EIUPanthers.com)

Eastern Illinois Panthers

Head coach: Chris Wilkerson (EIU, 1995)

Conference: Ohio Valley

Record: 2-9 (1-4)

Biggest win: The Panther offense rushed for 339 yards and the defense gained five turnovers as EIU snapped a nine-game losing streak with a 35-21 win at Murray State.

Most frustrating loss: Eastern appeared well on its way to a victory on Family Weekend following its return of a blocked field goal for a touchdown on the final play of the first half. However, the Panthers let a two-touchdown lead slip away and lost, 20-17, to Tennessee Tech.

Offensive MVP: K Stone Galloway

Not only did the junior lead the team in points, but Galloway also nailed his first 10 field goal attempts of the season. Dating back to last fall, the Collinsville native made 14 consecutive field goals. In addition, he was perfect on extra points.

Galloway was named first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference at season’s end.

Defensive MVP: LB Colin Bohanek

The Marist High School graduate was among the team leaders in tackles, tackles for loss, interceptions, quarterback hurries and forced fumbles. The sophomore set the defense and served as a team captain.

Bohanek earned second team All-OVC status.

On Wednesday, Bohanek announced on Twitter that he was entering the transfer portal.

Unsung hero: DB Nick Coates

The sophomore was dubbed the team’s “iron man” by Wilkerson. The Louisville native made plays all over the field despite learning to play safety in a depleted EIU secondary.

Parting shot: The Panthers intercepted opponents’ passes 13 times, the highest total since the 2015 team bagged 19 picks.

Tomorrow: Barry Bottino examines 5 burning questions facing the Panthers in 2023.

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