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The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Football takes loss to Austin Peay on homecoming

Freshman running back Demonta Witherspoon rushed for 32 yards against Austin Peay. Photo courtesy of Dave Winder/Racer Athletics.

Jakob Milani
Sports Editor
[email protected]


The Murray State football team took its biggest loss of the season on Saturday, Oct. 23, when the Racers lost to the Austin Peay Governors by a score of 47-6.

The Racers’ annual homecoming game was spoiled thanks to the loss as the Racers allowed five rushing touchdowns and two passing touchdowns from the Governors. 

Head Coach Dean Hood said the team was out coached throughout the entire game, leading to the Racers’ demise.

“It was just a whooping on every phase of the game,” Hood said. “We got outplayed in every phase, we got outcoached in every phase.”

Austin Peay started the game with the ball, but the Racers’ defense held on and forced a punt. The Racers’ offense weren’t able to get a first down though and had to punt back to the Governors. 

Graduate running back Ahmaad Tanner struck first with a 37-yard rushing touchdown for the Governors following the punt. The Governors failed to score on the two-point conversion and led 6-0 with 6:04 left in the first quarter. 

The Governors held the Racers to another punt on their next drive and struck again with a 44-yard rushing touchdown with junior running back Brian Snead. The Governors missed the extra point attempt, making it a 12-0 lead over the Racers.

After being held to fourth down again, the Racers attempted a fake punt attempt that the Governors quickly intercepted. The two teams traded punts and turnovers over the next five drives as neither defense was willing to give in. 

The Governors ended the turnover streak with a 35-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Sheldon Layman to graduate wide receiver Baniko Harley. This extended the Governors’ lead to 19 with 6:51 left in the first half. 

The game marked Layman’s first start of the season, something that junior cornerback Quinaz Turner said didn’t change the way the Racers played.

“He did everything that the starting quarterback would do,” Turner said. “He made it happen with his legs, he threw the ball pretty well. They had good backs so they ran the ball pretty well too.”

After trading punts over the next two drives, the Racers were able to get the ball moving. After a 33-yard rush from freshman quarterback DJ Williams, the Racers got into the end zone with a two-yard pass from Williams to freshman tight end Jake Saathoff to make the score 19-6 going into halftime. 

In the first half, the Governors rushed for 189 yards and two touchdowns while the Racers rushed for 94 yards  and passed for a touchdown.

The Racers started the second half with the ball in hand .but were unable to go anywhere and were forced to punt again. 

From there, the Governors began to move up the field with a 27-yard rush from Layman, then a 14-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Drae McCray. They capped it off with a 17-yard touchdown rush from Tanner to make the score 26-6.

The Racers made their way up the field on their next drive, moving all the way up to the Austin Peay 29 yard line. The Governors defense managed to hold off the Racers advances and held off freshman running back Demonta Witherspoon on a fourth-down rush. 

With the ball back in hand, the Governors made their way down the field with a slow and methodical drive. The drive ended with a two-yard rushing touchdown rush from Tanner to extend the lead and make it 33-6 in favor of the Governors.

After forcing another punt by the Racers, the Governors made their way back down the field for another touchdown pass from Layman to McCray to make the score 40-6.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Governors forced a fumble on the return and recovered the ball at the Murray State three-yard line. It took just one play for Snead to rush into the end zone for the touchdown and extend their lead to 41.

Neither team managed to score again before the end of the game, leading to a 41 point loss by the Racers, their largest loss of the season. The final score was 47-6. 

Before the game, Turner said everyone was locked in and ready.

“This week at practice, it went really well,” Turner said. “We were amped up, we were ready to play and were locked into the tools and the tools. No one made any mistakes really. This game just slipped from us.” 

Hood was also asked about the practice throughout the week leading up to the game against the Governors. He said he thought the team practiced really well during the week.

“We practiced really well on Tuesday and Wednesday, our two big work days,” Hood said. “I thought we had a lot of energy after the SEMO game. I really thought we were locked in mentally… practice wise, there weren’t any issues this week.”

The Racers travel on Saturday, Oct. 30, to take on Eastern Illinois in their third conference matchup of the season. The game is set to kick off at 5 p.m.

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