EKU football uses late ‘opportunities’ in double OT win

Colonels rally late, and in OT to win

RICHMOND, Ky. (EKU Athletics)  Eastern Kentucky rallied from a seven-point deficit in the fourth quarter and again in overtime, then held off Jacksonville State to claim a 39-31 double-overtime win at Roy Kidd Stadium on Saturday night.

Jacksonville State took a 24-17 lead with 46 seconds to play in the game, but Parker McKinney found Jayden Higgins for gains of 25 and 18 before a 19-yard completion to Dakota Allen put EKU on the Gamecocks’ 13-yard line with seven seconds to play. McKinney then connected with Braedon Sloan, who barreled over the goal line with two seconds left on the clock. Patrick Nations converted the extra point to send the game to overtime.
In the first overtime period, JSU score on its second play to move ahead 31-24. Facing 4th-and-goal at the nine-yard line, McKinney found Allen over the middle for a game-tying touchdown.

Eastern Kentucky took the lead in the second overtime when McKinney lofted a four-yard touchdown in the back corner of the end zone to Jaden Smith. Allen hauled in the two-point conversion to give the Colonels an eight-point advantage. Jacksonville State drove the EKU six-yard line, but was turned away when a fourth-down pass fell incomplete in the end zone.

McKinney finished the night 29-of-50 for 290 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 98 yards on 16 carries. His 229 completions this season are a program record. Allen set career highs with seven catches for 111 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Higgins caught five passes for 63 yards.

Kyle Bailey made a season-high 13 tackles, including 10 solo stops, three tackles for loss, two sacks, and fumble recovery. Matthew Jackson added 12 tackles for the Colonels.

Eastern Kentucky’s defense forced a fumble on the opening drive and neither team could find the end zone in the opening 15 minutes. A field goal late in the first quarter gave Jacksonville State a 3-0 lead, but EKU responded on the ensuing drive.

The Colonels drove 75 yards on its next possession, 39 of which McKinney covered on the ground. The quarterback found the end zone from three yards out to put Eastern Kentucky up 7-3 with 13:04 left in the second quarter. After a JSU three-and-out, EKU added to its lead when McKinney found Dakota Allen for a 31-yard touchdown with 8:03 left in the half. Jacksonville State converted a 4th-and-goal from the EKU two-yard line with 33 seconds remaining in the half to make the score 14-10 at the intermission.

Jackson picked off a JSU pass to set up Nations’ career-long 51-yard field goal at the 9:18 mark of the third quarter, but the Gamecocks answered with seven-play, 75-yard drive to knot the score at 17-17 with 5:58 left in the third quarter.

EKU will learn its postseason fate on Sunday when the 24-team FCS Playoff bracket is announced at 12:30 p.m. on ESPNU.

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