Football drops first home game


Freshman quarterback Lucas Maue made his first collegiate start against the Gamecocks on Saturday, Sept. 10. Photo courtesy of Dave Winder/RacerAthletics.

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

Football returned to Roy Stewart Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 10, when the Murray State football team hosted the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

The Racers took the loss by a score of 34-3, but the energy remained high throughout most of the game. Head Coach Dean Hood said it’s something the coaching staff has been preaching to the team.

“Faith in the finish,” Hood said. “Football is the greatest game ever invented, and it’s a lot like life. You can do your best and still get kicked in the teeth and that’s how it’s felt the last two weeks. There’s a lot of ups and downs that happen, but you can’t let that bother you. You gotta have faith in the finish, and as long as you keep fighting, there’s always a chance to win.”

Murray State started with the ball and began to make its way down the field with a 19-yard rush from freshman quarterback Lucas Maue. Despite the long run, the drive resulted in a punt, giving  the Gamecocks the ball at their own 15-yard line.

Jacksonville State spent no time getting its offense moving. Senior running back Matt Laroche took back-to-back runs for 17 and 16 yards, respectively.

Following the pair of runs, senior quarterback Zion Webb completed a 10-yard pass to junior wide receiver Ahmad Edwards, then a 15-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Micheal Pettway.

Three plays later, sophomore running back Anwar Lewis took a 1-yard rush for the first touchdown of the game. With the extra point up and good, the Gamecocks led the Racers 7-0 with 7:24 to go in the first quarter.

Despite an 11-yard rush from senior wide receiver LaMartez Brooks and a 15-yard pass from Maue to junior wide receiver Jacob Bell, the Racers again settled for a punt that pinned the Gamecocks at their own 1-yard line.

Both defenses held strong for the remainder of the first quarter, but just before the quarter came to an end, Webb was able to get a 33-yard pass off to sophomore wide receiver PJ Wells.

The Gamecocks’ drive continued into the second quarter as they moved up to the Murray State 37-yard line. On fourth and 15, Webb found Lewis for a gain of 13 yards, just short of the first down. This gave the Racers a chance to get their first points of the game.

But, the Racers’ offense was stuck in limbo. They were forced to punt yet again,  pinning the Gamecocks at their own 26-yard line.

Despite a decent drive from the Gamecocks, the Racers’ defense managed to get to Webb and sacked him for a loss, giving some momentum to Murray State. The momentum continued to swing the Racers’ way as senior defensive back Quinaz Turner intercepted a pass from Webb.

The interception gave the Racers the ball at their own 40-yard line. After Maue took an 8-yard sack on first down, the Racers began their trek up the field. An 11-yard rush from freshman running back Jawaun Northington put the Racers in field goal range, giving the offense hope for some points.

Another 7-yard rush from Northington moved the ball up to the Jacksonville State 25-yard line, where senior kicker Aaron Baum made a 45-yard field goal. The Gamecocks were still in the lead 7-3.

The Gamecocks used the remaining time in the half to move into field goal range, thanks in part to a 19-yard pass from Webb to junior wide receiver Sterling Galban. Sophomore kicker Alen Karajic sealed the half with a 42-yard field goal, and the Gamecocks went into halftime up 10-3.

Jacksonville State continued to move the ball to start the second half, moving all the way up to the Murray State 10-yard line. That was as far as it got on the drive as Turner grabbed his second interception of the game, giving  the Racers a chance to tie the game.

The Racers were held to a fourth down, but decided to pull out a fake punt when senior punter Lewis Halton took the ball and completed a 37-yard pass to sophomore defensive back Dylan Appleton. Despite the large pickup, Appleton fumbled the ball away, and the Gamecocks recovered.

On the next drive, Lewis took a 46-yard handoff  for his second touchdown of the game, putting the Gamecocks up 17-3 with 9:01 left in the third quarter.

Three drives later, as the Racers tried to punt the ball away once more, the Gamecocks managed to get in the backfield and block the punt, giving them the ball at the Murray State 26-yard line.

The Racers’ defense held strong, however, as the Gamecocks settled for another field goal.  They  ended the third quarter 20-3.

Turner highlighted the team’s energy throughout the game, as the team was still going strong heading into the last quarter. He said he’s never played with a group like this.

“I’m not gonna lie,” Turner said. “I love this team. I’ve never seen a team so happy to play football. That’s what it’s about. Guys have a belief in finishing. We follow in our coach’s footsteps. It’s such a real thing on this team, just being there for your brother and making sure you pick his head up when the team is down.”

The fourth quarter was all Jacksonville State and its run game. First, Lewis broke off a 64-yard rush for his third touchdown of the game. Then on the Gamecocks’ next drive, sophomore running backs Ron Wigging broke loose for an 83-yard touchdown to put the nail in the coffin.

When all was said and done, the Gamecocks left Roy Stewart Stadium victorious, defeating the Racers 34-3.

Maue completed five passes for 55 yards in his first collegiate start. Northington led the rushing game with 56 yards on 10 attempts. Turner ended up with just one tackle but had two interceptions to his name.

Hood spoke on Maue’s performance in his first start, saying he looked good, but there’s still room for improvement.

“Maue stepped up and played really, really good,” Hood said. “He gave us a chance and a lot of credit goes to him. He’s a good kid who means well and wants to battle for his team. He has a chance to play the position and manage the offense because of his adversity.”

Murray State falls 0-2 on the season with a game at Ball State coming up on Saturday, Sept. 17, against the Cardinals. Kickoff in Muncie, Indiana is set for 1 p.m.


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