Bears trounce Panthers 37-7 in first away game

The Bears destroyed the Eastern Illinois University Panthers 37-7 in their home opener in Charleston, Ill. on Sept. 11 to make their record 2-0.
The Panthers (0-2) are a top 25 ranked team and lost to number nine ranked Iowa last week by the same deficit.
The game began with a series of turnovers by the Panthers which allowed the Bears to take control early and gain momentum.
After the Bears’ first possession included a loss of yards and failure to convert the first down, senior kicker Eddie Carmona took the field and punted the ball which bounced off of a Panther player and was caught in the air by sophomore defensive back Desmond Wilcox to give the Bears control of the ball deep in Panthers territory.
On the first play of their second drive, junior quarterback Nathan Dick under threw a pass to junior wide receiver Willie Landers that was picked off by the Panthers on their 11-yard line, but they failed to convert.
After sophomore wide receiver Derek Owens made a return the Bears took over on the 34-yard line but couldn’t convert a first down. Carmona came on to punt again and for the second time in a row, the Panthers turned over the ball on a fumble.
The Bears recovered and took over the ball on the 12-yard line where they missed the opportunity for a touchdown and Carmona came on the field to kick a 21-yard field goal and put the first points of the game on the board for the Bears with 9:30 left in the first quarter.
The Panthers turned the ball over again, but the Bears didn’t miss the opportunity to put a touchdown on the board this time. With 5:50 left in the first quarter, Dick handed the ball off to sophomore runningback Terence Bobo who ran it straight into the end zone for a touchdown. Carmona kicked the extra point to put the Bears up 10-0.
The Panthers answered right back with a touchdown pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Large to redshirt sophomore tight end Von Vise which put the Panthers’ only points of the game on the score board.
At the end of the first quarter, Large threw an interception to Bears sophomore defensive back Radarius Winston who ran the ball back to the Eastern Illinois 28-yard line as time expired in the first quarter.
In the beginning of the second quarter, Bears’ redshirt freshman quarterback Wynric Smothers came in and ran the ball into the end zone for a touchdown. Carmona kicked the extra point and the Bears went up 17-7.
Smothers scored two touchdowns and rushed for 76 yards in the game. He and Dick rotated in and out throughout the game. “ The great thing about Nathan and Wynric is that they are each other’s number one fan and they are a team,” Coach Clint Conque said.
The Bears began a drive on the Panthers’ 48-yard line and drove the ball down the field before ending it with a 39-yard field goal from Carmona to put the Bears up 20-7 ending the half.
The Bears picked up right where they left off in the second half. During their first possession of the half they drove the ball all the way down the field where Dick handed the ball off to Bobo who made it into the end zone for the second time. The Bears took the lead 27-7.
With 4:57 left in the third quarter, the Panthers punted to Owens who fumbled the ball on the Bears’ 44-yard line. The Bears held the Panthers to fourth down but the Panthers decided to go for it. Large attempted to make a first down pass and sophomore defensive back Seth Allison picked it off.
After the interception the Bears were able to add another three points to the board off of a 20-yard field goal from Carmona, to make the score 30-7.
The Bears made the decision to go for the first down with 11:40 left to play in the game. At 4th down and one yard to go on the Panthers 15 yard-line, Smothers came back into the game to pass the ball for the first down. The risk proved to be worth the reward as Smothers ran into the end zone for the second time to make the final score 37-7.
The Bears lost a few players to injuries during the game, including Winston and junior linebacker Frank Newsome.
“We lost some guys to injuries, which is a concern. We weren’t always artistic today, but the team played very hard and our defense played great,” Conque said Saturday.
The Bears will be back in action at 6 p.m. on Saturday against Murray State at Estes Stadium.

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