Football finishes non-conference slate with loss

Junior running back Cortezz Jones breaks a tackle for a big gain.
Junior running back Cortezz Jones breaks a tackle for a big gain.
Jakob Milani

In its second straight FBS matchup, the Murray State football team fell short, losing to Middle Tennessee State University on the road 35-14.

The Racers wrapped up their non-conference schedule against the Blue Raiders, putting up 14 points against the Conference-USA team. But the Racers’ defense couldn’t keep up with the Blue Raiders.

The Blue Raiders worked their way down the field on the first drive, finishing the drive with a 14-yard passing touchdown from sophomore quarterback Nicholas Vattiato to sophomore running back Jaiden Credle.

Following a fumble by Murray State junior wide receiver Taylor Shields, the Blue Raiders were set up for a 47-yard field goal try, but missed to the right. Murray State was unable to capitalize, and was forced to punt on the following drive.

On the first play of the Blue Raiders’ next drive, Credle took a handoff 71 yards for a touchdown, giving Middle Tennessee State a 14-0 lead to end the first quarter.

After making their down field early in the second quarter, freshman running back Jekail Middlebrook took off downfield for a 25-yard rushing touchdown. 

The Racers answered on their following drive, starting with a 55-yard pass from redshirt sophomore DJ Williams to sophomore tight end Cole Rusk, moving the Racers up to the Middle Tennessee State 16-yard line.

Two plays later, Williams found Rusk again in the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown, making it 21-7.

A few drives later, junior defensive back Zayteak McGhee intercepted a pass from Vattiato, giving the Racers the ball at their own 13-yard line. But they were unable to do anything with the turnover, and went into halftime still down 21-7.

In the third quarter, the two teams traded punts back and forth until four minutes left, when Middlebrook rushed 18 yards for a touchdown to put the Blue Raiders up by 21 points.

The Racers wouldn’t respond until the fourth quarter when junior running back Cortezz Jones rushed four yards for a touchdown.

On the next drive, Vattiato found senior wide receiver Jeremy Tate Jr. wide open for a 40-yard touchdown pass.

That was all either team could muster in the second half as Middle Tennessee State defeated Murray State 35-14.

Williams was 23-32 passing with 194 yards and a touchdown. Rusk caught six of those passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. Jones rushed 15 times for 136 yards and a touchdown.

Vattiato was 28-34 passing with 291 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Credle led the rushing game with 132 yards and a touchdown on 11 attempts.

Murray State drops to 1-2 on the season. The Racers take a week off next week before hosting Indiana State in their first ever Missouri Valley Football Conference game. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 30.

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    Mike BuckinghamSep 18, 2023 at 10:27 am

    It would be nice to see the Football schedule (or link) on the initial football page. I can’t find it anywhere. I realize it is on the Murray football site, but would be nice if it were here as well.