EKU comeback falls short against Houston Baptist, 33-30


RICHMOND, Ky. (EKU Sports) – Eastern Kentucky University’s football team fell behind by 14 early and trailed by 17 at halftime, but clawed back to within one point late in the fourth quarter of a 31-30 loss to visiting Houston Baptist University on Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.

With the Colonels (1-3) down seven, Keyion Dixon caught a 27-yard pass over the middle in the end zone to draw within one.  The extra point attempts was blocked and returned for two points, pushing HBU in front by three with 4:04 remaining to play.

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Facing 4th-and-1 at the Huskie 31 yard line, Parker McKinney kept the drive alive with a 4-yard completion to Matt Wilcox Jr.  On the next play, McKinney found Dixon for six points.

EKU had a chance to tie or win, but a fumble near midfield with 2:03 left in the game ended the comeback bid.

The two offenses combined for 1,000 yards.  HBU totaled 520 yards of offense, including 380 through the air.  Eastern Kentucky had 480 yards – 184 on the ground and 296 through the air.

The Colonels turned the ball over three times while the Huskies did not have a turnover.

McKinney finished 25-of-40 for 296 yards.  He threw three touchdown passes and rushed for 59 yards but had two interceptions.  Alonzo Booth led the team with 108 yards on the ground and scored a touchdown.  Dixon finished with six catches for 112 yards and a touchdown.  Wilcox had 27 yards and two touchdowns on his four catches.  Linebacker Matthew Jackson had a game-best 15 tackles, including one for a loss.

Bailey Zappe was 35-of-46 for 380 yards and tossed three touchdown passes for HBU.

Houston Baptist (1-3) took a 14-0 lead on an 8-yard touchdown pass from Zappe to Vernon Harrell and a 42-yard scoring pass from Zappe to Jerreth Sterns.  The second score came with 6:01 left in the first quarter.

The Colonels got on the board with just over a minute and a half left in the first.  McKinney capped an 11-play, 75-yard drive that took 4:29 off the clock, with a 10-yard toss to Wilcox in the end zone.  The extra-point made it 14-7.

The Huskies added a 24-yard field goal and a 1-yard touchdown run by Dreshawn Minnieweather in the second quarter to take a 24-7 lead into the locker room at the break.

EKU opened the third quarter with a 10-play, 75-yard drive that resulted in a 7-yard pass from McKinney to Wilcox.  The ensuing extra-point closed the gap to 10, 24-14.  On the second play of the drive, Booth gained 19 yards on a run.  Jackson Beerman had an 18-yard catch.  A 15-yard rush on a reverse by Dixon set up the touchdown play.

With 1:36 left in the third quarter, Alexander Woznick connected on a 26-yard field goal to make it a 7-point game, 24-17.

On HBU’s next possession, Zappe found a streaking Josh Sterns over the middle for a 65-yard touchdown and a 31-17 advantage.

Booth’s 29-yard touchdown run with 13:21 on the clock in the fourth quarter made it a 7-pont game.

The Colonels will have a week off of game action before traveling to play at Troy on Oct. 17.  Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET.

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Austin Miller joins ABC 36 Sports Team as a Sports Reporter and Weekend Anchor. Austin is from the Louisville area and graduated from St. Xavier High School in 2008. Austin graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and a second concentration in German. While at IU, Austin was a blogger at Kentsterling.com and co-host, producer and engineer for WIUX, the school’s student radio station. Before coming to ABC 36, Austin was a news videographer at WLFI in West Lafayette from 2012-2015. While working with WLFI, Austin had the chance to cover the Purdue Boilermakers. He then accepted a Sports/New Reporter position at Local 4 KSNB-TV in Hastings Nebraska and was eventually promoted to sports full-time as the Weekend Sports Anchor/Reporter. While at KSNB-TV, Austin covered the University of Nebraska, the University of Nebraska-Kearney and Hastings College. After spending nearly six years away from home, Austin is excited to return to the Bluegrass State to cover the teams he grew up watching. In his spare time, Austin enjoys playing basketball, working out and cooking. If you have any story ideas or would like to say “Hello,” you can reach Austin by email at amiller@wtvq.com or direct message him on Twitter @AustinMillerTV.