Despite losing to Kentucky, 49-10, Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field, the Murray State football team left Lexington with several positives as it heads into its bye week, followed by the opening of Ohio Valley Conference play.
“Obviously, we came up here for one purpose and that was to win. That’s what you do as a coach and as a team. The boys came up here with that purpose and I thought they fought tremendously well,” said head coach Mitch Stewart after the game. “We came up short from our goal of why we came up here and why we traveled, but there was a lot of positives we can take away. There is some tremendous talent out there on our football team and we knew that coming into it. The great thing is, we’ve got a bye week this next week where we can heal up and get our legs back. Then we start our new season, we start conference play and we are very excited about that. We feel like we’re battle tested by these three weeks that we’ve had and we’re extremely excited. You can go in our locker room over there and I know those guys believe they played hard. We are excited to get a week off and heal up for this conference run that we’re about to get into.”
Defensively, Kenney Wooten had the first sack of the season on UK quarterback Terry Wilson, in addition to forcing one of two fumbles on the afternoon, the other coming from Marquez Sanford. Sanford led the Racers on the day with seven tackles, including 0.5 for loss.
Offensively, after giving up eight turnovers in the first two games of the season, Murray State had just one Saturday, a late-game interception by Shuler Bentley, who was under extreme pressure on the play. In addition, the Racers improved on their third down conversion rate, going from 8-for-27 in the first two games to 9-of-16 Saturday.
Drew Anderson was 15-of-32 in the game for 118 yards, while backup Preston Rice came in late and broke off a 21-yard run for MSU’s only touchdown of the game. Receiving wise, the freshmen duo of Malik Honeycutt and Armani Hayes led the Racers with four catches each for 76 and 35 yards, respectively. On special team, Gabriel Vicente improved to 4-for-4 on field goals on the year with a 29-yarder as time expired in the first half.
The Racers will now take a week off before opening OVC play September 29 at home against UT Martin in the annual Family Weekend game.