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EKU kicks off football season Saturday afternoon with nationally televised game at Marshall

Eastern Kentucky University begins the football season this Saturday by traveling to Huntington, W.Va., for a nationally televised game with Marshall. The kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be televised live on ESPN.

Eastern Kentucky posted a 7-5 overall record last season. The Colonels are under the direction of first-year head coach Walt Wells, who most recently served as a quality control assistant at Kentucky the past two seasons.

Marshall finished with an 8-5 record last season, including a loss to Central Florida in the Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl.

EKU running back Alonzo Booth, offensive linemen Tucker Schroeder and Jackson Bardall, and linebacker Steven Crowder are among those chosen for All-Ohio Valley Conference preseason honors by various publications. Booth finished last season with 673 rushing yards on 140 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and scored 14 touchdowns on the ground.

EKU standout running back Alonzo Booth rushed for 673 yards and 14 touchdowns last season. (EKU photo)

Booth led the OVC and ranked 16th in the nation in rushing touchdowns. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound redshirt junior rushed for 128 yards on seven carries and scored three touchdowns against Valparaiso.

Schroeder, a 6-foot-4, 295-pound redshirt junior, received honorable mention for the HERO Sports FCS Sophomore All-America Team and was a second team All-OVC selection by coaches and communications directors in 2019. He started all 12 games at left guard and ended the season having started 23 straight contests.

Bardall, a 6-foot-3, 301-pound redshirt senior, started all 12 games at center and ended the season with 22 straight starts at the position.

The two offensive linemen helped EKU rush for 2,468 yards in 2019, the second-most in the past 17 seasons by an Eastern Kentucky team. The Colonels led the OVC and ranked 20th in FCS football with 205.5 rushing yards per game. During the final six games of the season, the offensive line allowed only three sacks. Both players started the game against Tennessee State and aided a running attack that churned out 379 yards, averaging nine yards per rush.

Crowder was a third team All-OVC linebacker by Phil Steele and chosen to the 2019 Academic All-District Team. The 6-foot-2, 225-pound senior totaled 63 tackles, including 9.5 tackles for a loss and 2.0 sacks, forced one fumble, recovered one fumble and had one pass break-up.

Other EKU players honored in the preseason include defensive back Josh Hayes and kick returner Quentin Pringle. As a freshman last fall, Pringle ranked eighth nationally in kick return average at 27.1 yards per return.

Marshall features running back Brenden Knox, who was chosen as the preseason Conference USA most valuable player. Knox rushed for 1,387 yards and scored 11 touchdowns a year ago. He also averaged 5.1 yards per carry and 106.7 yards per game.

Marshall leads the all-time series with EKU by an 11-8-1 margin. EKU is 4-7-1 in games played in Huntington.

The first meeting in the series was in 1926. The most recent meeting was in 2018, when Marshall posted a 32-16 victory in Huntington.

From Eastern Kentucky University

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