Football loses fourth straight after battling Golden Eagles and the elements


Becca Langys/ Photo Editor

Connor Sampson looks for a teammate down field.

Michael Harms , Courier Staff

MACOMB, Ill. — The Western Illinois Leathernecks fell to the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles in a downpour, 24-38. The Leathernecks failed to pick up their first win of the season, dropping to 0-4 as the rebuilding Eagles have improved to 3-1 with their only loss to Texas Tech.

The game saw a lengthy weather delay in the first quarter, and an injury to Leatherneck starting quarterback Connor Sampson. He has struggled this year, as the junior has had multiple interceptions in enemy territory and simply can’t find the winning recipe. He did not return to the game after his injury and opened the door for Kevin Johnson.

The transfer from Richmond played seven games last year and accumulated over 1300 yards, going 90 for 164 and seven touchdowns. His opener at Richmond, he passed for 300 yards and two touchdowns in a playoff win. He also played for Richmond after an injury to the starter.

Now at Western, his first performance included 159 yards, two touchdowns, two interceptions and a 71.4 percent completion rate. The question begins who will start the rest of the season? Through three games, Sampson’s stat book reads as follows: two touchdowns, two interceptions, over 600 yards and a 56 percent completion rate.

At 0-4 and only Missouri Valley Football Conference play up next for the Leathernecks, the need for improvement is obvious. Can Johnson be the difference maker Western needs to turn the corner? The defense allowed too many big plays early, mainly to star player Metruius Flemming. The true freshman out of Alabama has seven receptions for 165 yards, he led the team in both categories. Of course, it was the quarterback Bailey Fisher that was making the decisions.

Fisher passed for over 300 yards and two touchdowns in Saturday’s contest. He also ran for over 100 yards and scored three touchdowns with his legs. With five touchdowns on the day, Fisher made it easy for his teammates to get the job done. On defense it was Seth Carlisle earning a game ball.

The sophomore linebacker recorded three total tackles and two interceptions. Both interceptions were the first of his career. A career game for Carlisle, and a win for Tennessee Tech proves that they are on the right track. After going 1-10 last year, the Golden Eagles have tripled their win total this year and are competing at a high level.

For Western, head coach Jared Elliot is moving in the wrong direction. After taking over for Charlie Fisher, he has a record of 5-10. Western missed the FCS playoffs last year, and things are not looking up. Elliot needs to find answers quickly to right the ship.

Western begins conference play against Missouri State on the road in two weeks. The Bears are currently 0-3. Last year, Western beat Missouri State on the road 31-14. It’s never easy to win on the road in football and this year will be no different. Kickoff is 3 p.m Oct. 5.