The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Football begins season with dominant win

Junior quarterback Preston Rice rushed for four touchdowns on the way to a 35-0 victory over Mississippi Valley State. Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics.

Jakob Milani
Sports Editor
[email protected] 


After a short offseason, the Murray State football team returned to the field on Thursday, Sept. 2 to defeat the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils 35-0.

The Racers started the game on defense and quickly picked up where they left off last season. In the Delta Devils’ first drive, they were tackled for a five yard loss by sophomore linebacker Alec Long, stopped at the line of scrimmage by junior defensive end Ethan Edmondson and then sacked by sophomore cornerback Davontae McKee. The Delta Devils were forced to punt on fourth and 25th. The Racers took over at their own 46-yard line. 

On the Racers’ first offensive drive, a third down pass from junior quarterback Preston Rice to sophomore Demonta Witherdpoon moved the Racers from the Racers’ 40-yard line to the Delta Devils’ 28-yard line. The very next play, Rice took off for a 28-yard touchdown run, giving the Racers a 7-0 lead with 11:26 left in the first quarter.

The Racers’ offense only got better on their next drive. On first down from the Mississippi Valley State 30-yard line, Witherspoon took off for another 20-yard gain, moving the ball into the redzone for the Racers. Three plays later, Rice took it in for the one yard rushing touchdown, his second of the game. The Racers went up 14-0.

The Racers’ defense forced another punt from the Delta Devils, ending the first quarter and starting the second quarter right where they left off. Senior running back Rodeny Castille got the drive going with a 24 yard rush up to the Racers’ 37-yard line. On the next play, freshman running back Cortezz Jones broke off a 23-yard run to move the Racers up to the MVSU 40-yard line. The Racers weren’t able to move the ball and were forced to attempt a field goal. However, the kick was too far to the left, leaving the score at 14-0.

The Murray State offense stalled as both teams punted on their next possessions. When the Racers received the next punt from the Delta Devils, their offense went right back into gear as Jones broke off a 69 yard rush, bringing the ball all the way up to the Mississippi Valley six-yard line. Just two plays later, Rice took in his third rushing touchdown of the game, giving the Racers a 21-0 lead with just 1:20 left in the half. The Racers’ defense continued to bring the pressure and held the Delta Devils to end the first half.

The Racers started the second half with the ball, and again, made their way down the field with two long range passes from Rice to senior wide receiver DeQuan Dallas and freshman wide receiver Deshaun Britten. Rice followed it up with a 25 yard rush, moving the ball up to the Delta Devil’s four-yard line. However, Rice was unable to do anything  as he threw an interception on fourth down and goal. 

Despite the interception, the Delta Devils weren’t able to move the ball and were forced to punt yet again. On the ensuing drive, junior receiver LaMartez Brooks got in on the action with a 24 yard reception and a 29 yard reception. The two long receptions moved the ball up to the Delta Devils’ eight-yard line and set up Rice’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game, tying the school record for rushing touchdowns in a game. The touchdown extended the Racers lead to 28-0 with 30 second left in the third quarter.

Rice spoke after the game about his performance  for the team. He said he just wants to help the team win in whatever way he can.

“I’m just here to help the team win however I can,” Rice said. “ Whether it’s running the ball, throwing the ball, either way. I’m having fun out there just playing with the boys.”

On the first play of the Delta Devils next drive, junior cornerback Quinaz Turner picked off graduate quarterback Conor Regan to keep the Delta Devils at bay. Despite taking the ball back to the Mississippi Valley four-yard line, the Racers had to settle for another field goal attempt that was just slightly left again. The score remained in favor of the Racers at 28-0. 

After a series of punts, the Delta Devils threw another interception, this time to McKee who went down at the Delta Devils’ six-yard line. The Racers were able to capitalize on the interception as Jones took in his first touchdown of his career at Murray State, extending the Racers’ lead to 35-0 with 6:25 left in the game. The Delta Devils were unable to score on their final drive and the Racers walked away victorious in their first game of the season.

Senior linebacker Jacobi Hearn led the Racers with tackles in the game with four solo tackles and a tackle-for-loss. He spoke after the game about the preparation going into the week and how the Racers were able to hold the Delta Devils scoreless.

“Initially, we knew we had to stop the run, that’s the first thing you have to do,” Hearn said. “We knew they had a new quarterback coming in and we knew we had to keep him in the pocket and we did a good job with that. It’s just an alpha mentality. We just had to go at them and keep going at them and that’s what we did today.”

Hearn also discussed the Racers being the favorites to win the OVC this year and whether or not he felt pressure on the field. Hearn said there was no pressure for him or the team.

“I really don’t see any pressure,” Hearn said. “We’re gonna go out there and play our hardest regardless if they had us picked to win. We’re gonna play our hardest regardless of that, and we’re gonna show every team that this is our year.”

Rice spoke after the game about the team’s running game and just how strong it is. He said it’s great to have so many options in the backfield as it gives everyone the opportunity to make a play.

“It makes life a lot easier on us as an offense,” Rice said. “When you can rotate three guys and get the same production out of each of them, it’s just something that’s hard for a defense to scheme for. Then you have me and [freshman quarterback] DJ Williams out there running the ball, making the defense play eleven-on-eleven which is tough for them. It’s just a really good scheme and I’m excited to move forward.”

Head Coach Dean Hood spoke after the game about the team’s performance and the feeling of getting back to a normal football season in the fall. He said it was great to be back out on the field in the fall.

“It was just really good to get out there on a fall Thursday night and play college football,” Hood said. “Our fans were awesome, the community came out, the students came out, it was a live atmosphere… just getting back to some normalcy in fall football… I thought our guys played physical. We ran the football well, stopped the run which is critical every single game. We protected the ball well. I thought it was a good night.”

With their first win under their belt, the 1-0 Racers travel to take on what is likely to be their hardest opponent, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats. The game is set for Saturday, Sept. 11 at 2:30 p.m.

More to Discover