The Murray State football team could not complete another comeback Saturday, as it fell 48-23 to Austin Peay Saturday night at Fortera Stadium in Clarksville, Tennessee. Despite the loss, the Racers finish the season at 5-6 overall and 5-3 in the OVC for a fourth-place league finish. Both the conference record and the finish are the best by a Racer team since 2011.
The Racers fell behind early in the contest after Austin Peay scored in each of its first two possessions to take a 14-0 lead. The Racers were able to scrape together 10 points in the last two minutes of the opening stanza and trailed by just four, 21-17, at the break.
After the Govs pushed their lead to 11 in the third, Malik Honeycutt took Austin Peay’s first punt of the fourth quarter 80 yards to the house, to close the gap at 28-23. The punt return touchdown was the first for a Racer since Janawski Davis in 2014. When paired with his kickoff return touchdown from last week, it marks the first time a Racer has had return touchdown in back-to-back game since Pokey Harris, also in 2014.
On the ensuing two-point conversion attempt, Austin Peay sacked quarterback Drew Anderson and from that point on the fickle mistress know as momentum moved across the field to the Govs sideline, never to return. Austin Peay scored 20 unanswered points to end the game, capped by a 71-yard interception return by Trent Taylor with 52 seconds remaining in the contest.
Anderson was 23-for-44 for 247 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in his final interceptions. James Sappington has a team-high 77 yards on the night, while Honeycutt and Rodney Castille had the Racers’ two scores.
Gabriel Vicente was 1-for-2 in the game, with his lone field goal going for 50 yards. Vicente has now made a 50-plus yard kick in each of his two seasons, with each, oddly enough, coming in the season finale. Steve Dawson pinned the Govs inside their own 20-yard line in two of his five punts with a 48.4 yard average including a season-long 66 yards
Anthony Koclanakis led the MSU defense with 12 tackles, while Quincy Williams racked up 11 and forced a fumble in his final game as Racer. Williams led the Racers with 111 tackles on the year and finished his career with 231. In addition, his 78 solo tackles are the most in a single-season since that record started being tracked at Murray State in 1994.
The MSU coaching staff will now hit the road to try to shore up the next generation of Racers in advance of early signing day on Dec. 19 and National Signing day on Feb. 6. On Thur., Aug. 29, the Racers will kick off their 94th season of football under the lights of Roy Stewart Stadium against Pikeville.