Football loses first conference game


Sophomore linebacker Cade Shuppard (#58) recorded five tackles, including a sack, in the Racers’ loss to EIU on Saturday, Sept. 24. Photo courtesy of Dave Winder/Racer Athletics.

Jakob Milani, Sports Editor

The losing streak continued for the Murray State football team as the Racers lost to the Eastern Illinois Panthers 35-21 during the Family Weekend game on Saturday, Sept. 24.

Second-string quarterback Jayden Stinson, a native of Mayfield, Kentucky, took his first collegiate start for the Racers in the game. Speaking after the game about taking his first start, he said it’s been important to just try his best in Murray.

“Most importantly, it’s just been sticking to what we have here,” Stinson said. “With the transfer portal and getting to play behind a player like DJ [Williams], it can be easy to just leave. You can leave or you can stick through it, help the team, and do whatever you can to win.”

Stinson was quick to make an impression as he led the Racers down the field in speedy fashion. He completed his first two passes, first to senior wide receiver LaMartez Brooks, then to sophomore tight end Jake Saathoff for a 23-yard gain.

Three plays later, Stinson found sophomore tight end Cole McDowell for a 12-yard gain and a first down. The drive ended with a 12-yard completion to senior wide receiver DeQuan Dallas to give the Racers a 7-0 lead.

Dallas, who is the oldest on the team at 24 years old, spoke after the game about Stinson’s 

performance and what he sees in the young quarterback. He said Stinson’s future looks bright for the team.

“I see a lot out of him just because he’s young,” Dallas said. “It gives him room to improve. Everybody has a lot to improve on, but since he’s here at Murray State, he’s got a lot to look forward to.”

Senior quarterback Dom Shoffner took the field for the Panthers and proceeded to run all over the Racers’ defense. He ran for 28 yards over three plays to start the drive, then found senior wide receiver Justin Thomas for a 30-yard gain.

On the next play, Shoffner took off and rushed one yard for the touchdown to tie the game at seven points apiece.

After holding Murray State to a punt, sophomore wide receiver Cooper Willman took the punt 55 yards up to the Murray State 33-yard line. 

Shoffner found sophomore wide receiver Nile Hill for a 16-yard completion, then found Thomas in the end zone for a two-yard touchdown completion to give the Panthers a 14-7 lead.

Stinson ended the first quarter with a 29-yard pass to sophomore Taylor Shields, then started the second quarter with an 18-yard pass to Saathoff.

The Racers ended the drive with a 28-yard pass from Stinson to Shields to tie the game at 14 points apiece early in the second quarter.

Sophomore running back Jaelin Benefield started the Panthers’ next drive with an 18-yard rush, and sophomore running back Kendi Young followed it up with a 43-yard rush, moving the Panthers into Murray State territory.

Shoffner then rushed for 17 yards, but the Racers’ defense held strong and forced the Panthers to settle for a field goal to take a 17-14 lead. 

Stinson then threw an interception on the Racers’ following drive, and Young took advantage with a 36-yard touchdown rush to put the Panthers up 24-14.

Before the half came to an end, Stinson tried to put together one last drive, but threw an interception on the last play, leaving the score at 24-14 at halftime.

Neither defense gave in during the third quarter, with both offenses struggling to get the ball moving. The Racers had one chance to get a few points on a field goal but the ball went to the right of the goal post, leaving the score at 24-14 after three quarters.

As the fourth quarter began, the Racers had a chance to get back in the game. After three straight completions to Dallas to move the Racers up 69 yards, Stinson found Brooks in the corner in the end zone for a six-yard touchdown reception, cutting the Panthers’ lead to three points.

The Panthers started with good field position on the next drive, but the Racers’ defense continued to hold strong and held the Panthers to a field goal. With 6:23 left to play, the Panthers led the Racers 27-21.

When the Racers got the ball back, they went straight to the passing game. This turned out to be costly as Stinson threw his third interception of the game. 

With the ball on the Murray State 8-yard line after the interception, Shoffner dashed into the end zone for his second rushing touchdown of the game. That put the Panthers up 35-21 with the two-point conversion working in the Panthers’ favor.

The Panthers ran the clock out, and when it was all said and done, they had defeated the Racers 35-21 on Family Weekend.

Stinson completed 28 of his 46 passing attempts for 334 yards and three touchdowns, throwing four interceptions in the process. Dallas caught nine passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Brooks had 53 yards receiving, and Shields had 76 yards receiving. Both had a touchdown each.

Dallas spoke after the game on the team’s performance so far in the season. He said despite the rough start to the season, the team continues to push on.

“I just pick up my teammates and tell them, ‘We’re doing good,’” Dallas said. “It really starts with just picking up the young guys, then working up. That way, the whole team is up rather than just one person.”

Murray State falls to 0-4 on the season and 0-1 in OVC play. The Racers move on to Hammond, Louisiana, where the Racers will take on the No. 21 team in the nation, the Southeastern Louisiana University Lions. Kickoff against the Lions is set for 6 p.m on Saturday, Oct. 1.


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