Returning QB highlights Racers 1,000th football game

Sophomore quarterback DJ Williams scrambles to avoid a sack during the first quarter against Presbyterian College.
Sophomore quarterback DJ Williams scrambles to avoid a sack during the first quarter against Presbyterian College.
Rebeca Mertins Chiodini

Murray State made its 1,000th game special as the Racers defeated the Presbyterian Blue Hose 41-10.

Sophomore quarterback DJ Williams made his return to the field for Murray State and got the start, completing eight of his 16 passes for 104 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed three times for 12 yards.

Williams  said the excitement of getting to play again has been keeping up all week and he’s happy to be back for the team.

“It felt amazing,” Williams said. “I’ve been dreaming about this all week. I’ve dreamt about it for the last year. This whole past week, I couldn’t sleep. I was just so ready for this game. It felt great to be back out there with my teammates, and I’m happy to be back playing the game I love.”

Both teams punted the ball away in their first drives, but a muffed punt by the Presbyterian punter put the Racers on the Blue Hose’s 39 yard line. It took one rush from freshman running back Kylan Galbreath to put the Racers up 7-0.

The Racers tacked on another three points from a field goal by sophomore kicker Matt Maldonado to start the second quarter. 

Sophomore quarterback Tyler Wesley came out in the second quarter for the Blue Hose and completed a pair of long passes: first to sophomore wide receiver Dominic Kibby for 18 yards, then to sophomore tight end Terik Mulder for 23 yards.

The drive ended with 7 points for Presbyterian as junior running back JB Seay took a handoff one yard to the end zone, making it a 10-7 game in favor of Murray State.

Two drives later, the Blue Hose added 3 more points to tie the game, thanks to a field goal from freshman kicker Mack Mikko.

With 2:12 left in the first half, Williams took just one minute and five seconds to get the Racers into the end zone, completing three of his six passes, including an 18-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Taylor Shields.

Williams discussed the drive and how that challenge felt in his first game back. He said it came easy to him, as the team has worked on two-minute drills heading into the season.

At halftime, the Racers led the Blue Hose 17-10.

Sophomore running back Jawaun Northington leaps over a Blue Hose defender to advance the play. (Rebeca Mertins Chiodini)

Head Coach Dean Hood talked about the adjustments the Racers had to make at halftime after a closer first half than they expected. He said the first game of the season brought growing pains, but it was all about going pedal to the metal in the second half.

“The biggest thing was telling the guys ‘This is who they are and this is what we practiced for,’” Hood said. “For 25 practices, we go against our own team. So now that we were going against our opponent, we were able to adjust.”

The second half was all Murray State as the Racers did not allow a single point from the Blue Hose. The Racers ran the ball on every play of their first drive in the second half, finishing it off with a six-yard touchdown rush from junior running back Cortezz Jones.

Senior quarterback Eric Phoenix came in for Williams and made his presence felt in just two drives, completing four of his five passes for 121 yards and a touchdown pass to Shields.

Shields spoke about the different quarterbacks in the rotation after the game. He said it’s about practice and trust in the team.

“I feel comfortable with all three of them,” Shields said. “It’s all about reps with them. All three of them look good, can throw the ball. It doesn’t matter who’s in there, they can all get the job done whatever we need.”

Q’Daryius Jenning took a two-yard handoff to the endzone to get on the board early in the fourth quarter, giving the Racers a 38-10 lead.

Sophomore quarterback Jayden Stinson took over after the rushing touchdown and completed two of his three passes for 28 yards. 

Maldonado kicked one last field goal for the Racers before they kneeled out the rest of the game. When the time ran out, the Racers were on top, winning 41-10.

Murray State’s three different quarterbacks passed for a combined 253 yards and two touchdowns, while the seven different rushers combined for 231 yards and three touchdowns.

Presbyterian passed for 99 yards and threw an interception late in the game, and rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown.

Murray State starts the season 1-0 after the win. The Racers travel to take on the University of Louisville Cardinals in a Thursday night matchup at 6 p.m. on Sept. 7.

Head Coach Dean Hood and sophomore quarterback DJ Williams share a moment after the Racers 41-10 win over Presbyterian College. (Rebeca Mertins Chiodini)
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