CHARLESTON, Ill. -- Eastern Illinois held off a fourth-quarter comeback by Tennessee Tech to win 23-15 Saturday, a day on which EIU retired the jersey of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
Eastern Illinois (5-2, 3-1 Ohio Valley) stopped Tennessee Tech on fourth-and-5 from the Panthers 14-yard line with 12 seconds left. That secured the win in a game the Panthers led 20-0 with 2:24 left in the third quarter. The Golden Eagles scored their first points on a safety with 44 seconds to go in the third.
Turnovers killed Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles lost three fumbles, and quarterback Lee Sweeney was intercepted twice.
Sweeney connected with Colin Allen for an 11-yard touchdown pass to cut Eastern Illinois' lead to 20-15 with 3:54 left. A field goal by Austin Signor extended the Panthers' lead to eight with 53 seconds left.
An 81-yard kick return by Mauricio Wallace set up the opportunity for the Golden Eagles to tie the game with less than 40 seconds remaining, but Eastern Illinois' defense stood strong.
The Panthers needed less than two minutes on the opening drive to score on a field goal by Signor, who was 3-for-6 and had two field-goal attempts blocked. The Panthers extended their lead to 10-0 on a 20-yard touchdown pass from Jake Christensen to Chris Wright.
Tennessee Tech struggled stopping the running game. Eastern Illinois amassed 166 yards on 52 carries, led by Mon Williams, who rushed 29 times for 81 yards and a score.
Sweeney was 19 of 46 for 198 yards and touchdown passes to Dontey Gay and Allen. Gay caught four passes for 34 yards; Allen had six catches for 80 yards. Sweeney was intercepted twice.
Christensen went 17 of 27 for 182 yards with the touchdown pass to Wright and two interceptions.