Southeast Missouri State University student publication

SEMO football outlasts Panthers in win over Homecoming Weekend

Sunday, October 15, 2023
Junior offensive lineman Marshakie Applewhite (54) and junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent (10) celebrate after DeLaurent scores a touchdown in Saturday’s matchup with EIU. The Redhawks came out on top 35-28.
Photo by Chandler Davis

The Redhawks are back in the win column after defeating the Panthers from Eastern Illinois University 35-28 on Oct. 14. This win sits the Redhawks at 2-0 in conference play and comes after three straight losses to non-conference opponents.

SEMO started the game off strong with junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent running for a 21-yard touchdown just five minutes into the first quarter. This was his fourth rushing touchdown of the season. DeLaurent finished the game completing 19-of-31 passes for 257 yards, two total touchdowns and one interception.

“When [the defense] recovered, he did a nice job,” head coach Tom Matukewicz said. “He never took a bad hit, he had good ball security.”

EIU took the lead towards the end of the second quarter, but senior wide receiver Ryan Flournoy tied it up at 14 heading into halftime with a 41-yard touchdown catch. Flournoy finished the game as the leading receiver with five receptions for 98 yards and a touchdown.

The Panthers took the lead again just five minutes into the third quarter, and SEMO couldn’t answer right away on their opposing possession. But after EIU’s failed 4th-and-11 pass attempt, graduate student running back Geno Hess broke off for a 44-yard run into the endzone. This put the Redhawks back in front 28-21, and Hess broke SEMO’s all-purpose yards record.

“I feel like everybody did our keys to victory and we did all the things we needed to do to win today, and you can’t ask for much more,” Hess said.

Hess finished the game with 129 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries.

Sophomore running back Keveon Robbins came up big in the fourth quarter for the Redhawks after Hess took some time to suppress a leg cramp.Robbins ran in for a 1-yard touchdown on 2nd-and-goal to put SEMO ahead 35-21 with eight minutes left on the clock.

“[Robbins] helps me a lot,” Hess said. “He’s one of the smartest football players that I’ve played with and with him being that young and knowing the game, he’s still teaching me things everyday and I’m proud of him.”

Robbins ended the contest with seven total carries for 25 yards.

Junior linebacker Bryce Norman anchored the Redhawk defense with 11 total tackles and one quarterback hurry. Graduate student defensive back Lawrence Johnson followed close behind Norman with nine tackles, and junior linebacker Christian Fuhrman trailed with six.

“It feels good,” Fuhrman said. “It kind of feels like a barrier off our chest and we can take a deep breath. We’ll celebrate for 24 hours, enjoy it with our brothers, but when Monday comes we’re back to it.”

SEMO’s defense as a whole reeled in a season-high four sacks and six tackles for loss.

Although Coach Matukewicz and his team came out on top, he was not very pleased with the game overall.

“There’s no reason that things that are happening are happening,” Coach Matukewicz said. “We look like a talented, poorly coached team at the end of the day.”

Penalties are one of SEMO’s biggest obstacles as of late. They finished with eight total this afternoon, but they’ve had at least three in their last four contests.

The Redhawks are now 2-4 and 2-0 in conference play. SEMO will be back in action on Saturday, Oct. 21 as they travel to Cookeville, Tennessee to play Tennessee Tech University. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. at Tucker Stadium.