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EKU welcomes coach back with 40-17 win over Buccaneers

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RICHMOND, Ky. (AP) — Parker McKinney threw for four touchdowns to tie the Eastern Kentucky career record and the Colonels welcomed back Walt Wells with a 40-17 victory Saturday night over Charleston Southern three weeks after the coach was hospitalized after a “cardiac episode” in his campus office.

Wells returned to coach the Colonels on the sideline after landing in intensive care on Aug. 28 and spending several days in the hospital. He did travel to Ohio last weekend as a sideline observer and watched EKU go seven overtimes to beat Bowling Green 59-57.

“It was a great test for my heart,” he said at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, and added that he had a couple of broken ribs and a cracked sternum.

McKinney tied TJ Pryor (2009-12) as EKU’s career TD passing leader at 51 with his 5-yarder to Jyran Mitchell late in the game.

Interceptions by Josh Hayes and Eli Hairston led to 10 points in the third quarter and the Colonels (2-1) added another score after Jayden Higgins had consecutive receptions of 47 and 41 yards, the latter for a TD. Higgins had a career-high 175 yards receiving on seven catches.

Jaden Smith scored EKU’s first touchdown, returning a punt 56 yards then completing the drive with an 8-yard scoring catch.

The Colonels led 16-0 after touchdown passes to Smith and Dakota Allen before the Buccaneers (0-3) rallied to close within 16-10 at halftime.

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More AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://twitter.com/ap_top25. Sign up for the AP’s college football newsletter: https://tinyurl.com/mrxhe6f2

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