The Student Newspaper of Murray State

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

The Murray State News

Football loses close game at Tennessee State

Junior quarterback Preston Rice took over in the second half and finished with 106 passing yards and a touchdown. Photo courtesy of Racer Athletics.

Jakob Milani
Sports Editor
[email protected]

The Murray State football team continued its downward spiral with a 27-21 loss to the Tennessee State Tigers 27-21 on Saturday, Oct. 30.

Despite coming back from being down 21-0, the Racers were unable to secure the lead late in the fourth quarter.

The Tigers started the game with the ball and were held to punt on their first drive. This gave the Racers a great opportunity to get out to an early lead. Freshman quarterback DJ Williams led the Racers down the field, with some help from freshman running back Demonta Witherspoon and a 15-yard rush.

The Racers worked all the way up to the Tennessee State 16 yard line before being held to a kick attempt. Junior kicker Aaron Baum lined up for the kick, but it went just right, keeping the score tied at 0-0 with 9:00 left in the first quarter. 

The two teams traded turnovers through the remainder of the first quarter, leaving the score tied at 0-0..

The Racers got the ball moving again in the second quarter and made their way up to the Tennessee State 31 yard line. They were forced to take another field goal attempt, though, and Baum missed again to keep the score 0-0 with 11:12.

After punts from both teams, The Tigers were able to put together a drive to get downfield. Senior quarterback Geremy Hickbottom found sophomore running back Devon Starling for a 17-yard gain, then completed a 22-yard pass to senior tight end Josh Trueheart.

Hickbottom then rushed for 16 yards to move the ball up to the eight yard line. From there, Hickbottom rushed the ball in for a touchdown. The point-after attempt was up and good, giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead that stood through the end of the half.

The Racers got the ball to start the second half and started their first drive at their own 49 yard line. Just three plays into the drive, Williams threw a pass that was tipped up and intercepted by the Tigers.

It took the Tigers three plays to take advantage of the turnover as Hickbottom broke free on a rush to score a 65-yard touchdown. With the PAT attempt up and good, the Tigers led 14-0 with 13:49 left in the third quarter.

Starling started the Tigers’ next drive with a 32-yard rush, then Hickbottom finished the drive with a 24-yard pass to Truehart, who took it all the way into the end zone for the touchdown. With the touchdown, the Tigers led the Racers 21-0 with 8:04 left in the third quarter. 

The Racers made a change at quarterback at this point, opting for junior quarterback Preston Rice, who had been out for the three weeks leading up to the game due to injury. His first pass of the following drive was a 16-yard pass to senior wide receiver Malik Honeycutt for a first down. 

On the next play, Rice found Honeycutt for another 16-yard completion. Witherspoon joined the fun with a 17-yard rush on the following play to move the Racers up to the Tennessee State nine yard line. A few plays later, Rice took it himself for a six-yard rushing touchdown to make it 21-7 Tigers with 2:09 left in the third quarter. 

The Racers defense held off an attack from the Tigers to end the quarter and the Racers offense took over to start the fourth quarter. They got right to work with a 15-yard pass from Rice to freshman wide receiver Deshun Britten that moved the Racers across mid-field. The Racers ended their drive with a rushing touchdown from Witherspoon to make it 21-14 Tigers with 10:09 left in the game. 

Defense picked up from there, with the Racers holding the Tigers to two punts in their next two drives. The Racers then capitalized with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Rice to junior wide receiver LaMartez Brooks to tie the game at 21.

The Racers needed a stop from the defense to have a chance to win the game. But Starling made it difficult with a pair of double-digit yard rushes, including a 16-yard rush. Hickbottom capped the drive off with a touchdown. The Racers were able to block the extra point try, though, which made the score 27-21.

The Racers needed a touchdown and an extra point to win the game. They attempted to get something going in the air, but both pass attempts fell incomplete. After a penalty moved the Racers back five yards, Rice rushed for eight yards to make it fourth down and seven to go. Rice dropped back to pass and threw to Honeycutt, but the ball was dropped, marking the end of the Racers’ comeback.

The Tiger kneeled out the remainder of the game and walked away victorious, defeating the Racers 27-21.

Rice completed five of his 12 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown, as well as rushed for 29 yards and a touchdown. Witherspoon rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown. Brooks caught two passes for 59 yards and a touchdown. 

The Racers fall to 3-5 overall and 0-3 in conference play. They return home on Saturday, Nov. 6, when they take on the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles at 1 p.m.

More to Discover