Racers Look To Keep Rolling at EIU

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Date (Time): Oct. 6 (6 p.m.)
Opponent: Eastern Illinois
Site (Venue): Charleston, Ill. (O’Brien Stadium)
Audio: Froggy 103.7 FM (PxP: Neal Bradley; Color: Aaron Clayton)
TV: ESPN+
Live Stats: GoRacers.com
Twitter In Game: @RacersFootball
MUR Record (Streak): 1-3, 1-0 OVC (Won 1)
EIU Record (Streak): 1-4, 1-1 OVC (Won 1)
All-Time Series vs. WIU (Streak): EIU leads 19-14 (Lost 1)
First Meeting: W 38-13 (Nov. 15, 1946, Murray, Ky.)
Last Meeting: L 24-27 [2OT] (Oct. 14, 2017, Murray, Ky)
Last Five vs. EIU: 1-4 (2017 – L, 2016 – W, 2015 – L, 2014 – L, 2013 – L)
MUR Next Game: Oct. 13 vs. Tennessee State
MUR Next Home Game: Oct. 13 vs. Tennessee State

The Game
The Murray State football team looks to improve to 2-0 in the OVC Saturday when it travels to Charleston to take on Eastern Illinois. Kickoff from O’Brien Stadium is set for 6 p.m.

Saturday’s Weather
Saturday evening should be cool in Charleston with lows in the high and mid-60s. Rain will move into the area earlier in the day, but should be gone by game time. Winds will be slightly elevated at 5-9 mph, in addition to a solid cloud cover.

Last Time Out
The Racers notched their first 400-yard offensive game of the year and scored a season-high six touchdowns as it moved to 1-0 in the OVC with a convincing 45-38 win over UT Martin. The Racers struck first Saturday, just three minutes and 10 seconds into the game, on a 37-yard pass from Drew Anderson to DeQuan Dallas to take an early lead that it would never relinquish. The game marked the first wire-to-wire win by the Racers over an FCS opponent since 2015 against Austin Peay. The Skyhawks had their chances in the game including a first-and-goal from the MSU 10-yard line at the end of the first half that the Racers stopped thanks to a seven yard tackle-for-loss by Kenney Wooten on fourth-and-goal from the two.  In the second half, after having cut the lead to just one score, the Skyhawks looked as if they would get the ball back with over a minute on the clock after forcing the Racers into a third-and-ten situation. However, D.J. Penick stepped up for the Racers and broke off a 32-yard run virtually sealing the game for the Racers.

The Eastern Illinois Series
The two teams played their first multiple overtime game of their 33-game series last year, with the Panthers blocking a field goal in the second extra period for the win. However, the last time the Racers were in Charleston, they upset the 15th-ranked Panthers, thanks in part to Connor Mitchell’s record-breaking six made field goals. EIU currently leads the all-time series at 19-15, with the Panthers winning five of the last six. In Charleston, the Racers have won just five times in 16 meetings with the last being the Mitchell-led upset in 2016.

Scouting The Panthers
After a rough start to the season, Eastern Illinois picked up its first win of the season last week, beating Tennessee Tech in a shoot-out, 52-38. Sophomore transfer quarterback Harry Woodberry impressed in his first start for the Panthers, going 32-for-49 for 339 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. Isaiah Johnson added 161 yards and a score on the ground for the Panthers, while Alexander Hollins led all receivers with 101 yards and two touchdowns. The Panthers are currently averaging 32.6 points and 465.4 yards of total offense per game, while allowing 47.4 and 524.4 yards.  Despite rushing for 140.2 yards on the ground, EIU still leans heavy on the pass with 325.2 per game. Defensively, Joe Caputo leads the way for the Panthers with 36 tackles, while Levi Watson has a team-high 6.5 tackles for loss and 3.0 sacks.

Familiar Faces

When staring across the field at an opponent’s coaching staff, most people see the enemy however, the week Racer fans might see the face of some people they know. Head coach Kim Dameron served as the Racers’ defensive coordinator from 1993-1995 under head coach Houston Nutt. Dameron’s current defensive coordinator, Cary Fowler played on MSU’s 1994 OVC Championship teams, under Dameron, and then served as a coach for the Racers for six seasons under Nutt, Denver Johnson and Joe Panunzio. In addition, outside receivers coach Tony Turner played on the 1995 and 1996 OVC title teams, playing for Dameron and with Fowler. Like Fowler, Turner also began his coaching career with the Racers.

Breaking The Streak

The Racers win over UT Martin Saturday put an end to a streak of four straight losses in OVC openers. The last previous time MSU won in a league opener was in 2013, under then head coach Chris Hatcher, with a thrilling 35-34 overtime victory at Jacksonville State.

Wire-To-Wire
Saturday also marked the first time since 2015 against Austin Peay that MSU had led an opponent in a game from start to finish.

Starting Strong
Murray State put up 323 total yards of offense in the first half, more than it had in any full game so far this season. In addition, the Racers’ 31 points in the opening half was just two less than it scored in the first three games combined.

Honey Smacked
Junior Malik Honeycutt became the first Racer receiver this season to tally over 100 yards in a game when he popped the UT Martin defense for 137 yards on five catches. The transfer averaged 26.4 yards per reception with a long of 53 yards and is now fifth in the nation in yards per reception at 23.7.

Drew Does It Big
Drew Anderson became the first Racer in over year to throw for over 350 yards Saturday, as he went 21-for-32 for 397 yards with three touchdowns and just one interception. In addition, the fifth-year senior picked up a 17-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. Anderson’s big numbers can almost certainly be traced to back to his solid start to the game, as went 14-for-14 to open with game for a 179 yards and two touchdowns.

Winner Winner
Quincy Williams picked up MSU’s first OVC weekly honor, when he was named as the Week Five Defensive Player of the Week. The senior led the Racers with 11 tackles including 2.0 for loss, a pass breakup and interception that he took 82 yards for a touchdown. The play extended MSU’s lead to 21 points early in the fourth and would later prove to be the difference in the game, as MSU won by just one touchdown. Williams’ pick-six was also the longest by a Racer since Lucas Holt went 88 yards against Tennessee Tech in 2004. The redshirt senior is now the first Racer to win the weekly defensive honor since Demetrius Mason in 2015.

OK, What’s Next?
Murray State returns to the friendly confines of Roy Stewart Stadium next week to take on Tennessee Tech at 1 p.m. next week when they travel to Eastern Illinois. Kickoff from Charleston is set for 6 p.m.

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