NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Harry Woodbery threw three touchdowns passes, Darshon McCullough rushed for 155 yards and a score and Jaelin Benefield ran for 105 yards and two TDs as Eastern Illinois scored the final 21 points to notch its first victory of the season, beating Tennessee State 49-38 on Saturday.
Demarco Corbin ran 6 yards for a TD to cap a game-opening 13-play, 67-yard drive, but Tennessee State missed the extra point and led 6-0. Benefield scored on a 45-yard run to put Eastern Illinois (1-9, 1-5 Ohio Valley Conference) up 7-6. The Tigers used Cameron Rosendahl’s 3-yard TD run and a 2-point conversion run by Chris Rowland to take a 14-7 lead, but McCullough scored on a 15-yard run with 41 seconds left in the first quarter to knot the score at 14.
The Tigers (2-8, 1-5) put together back-to-back TDs — scoring on Rowland’s 57-yard punt return and Rosendahl’s 35-yard scoring strike to Rowland — to take a 28-14 lead. Woodbery answered with a 12-yard TD toss to James Sheehan, but Rosendahl connected with Steven Newbold for a 14-yard TD and a 35-21 Tigers’ lead at halftime.
Eastern Illinois cut its deficit to seven on its first possession of the second half on wide receiver Isaiah Hill’s 4-yard TD run. After a Tennessee State field goal, Woodbery hit Benefield for a 19-yard score to get the Panthers within 38-35 after three quarters.
Woodbery connected with Sheehan for a 5-yard score to give Eastern Illinois a 42-38 lead and the Panthers’ defense came up with the play of the game. Jason Johnson sacked Rosendahl, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Ellin Corneliuss Page at the Tigers’ 9-yard line. Benefield scored on a first-down run to complete the scoring.
Woodbery completed 21 of 34 passes for 206 yards.
Rosendahl finished 16-of-28 passing for 209 yards with two TDs and an interception.