Family weekend, home opener arrives

Ed Marlowe
Staff writer

Melissa Ruhlman/The News

The Racers allowed 21 points in what was a heart-wrenching first half against Louisville. However, for the 103 minutes of play after the last Louisville point was scored, no opponent has come close to tacking up points.
Murray State beat Mississippi Valley State Saturday to the tune of 39-0 in which defense, special teams, passing and rushing all collectively played a part in the final score.
Not only was the shutout impressive, but it was the first road shutout for Murray State since 1996.
“That’s only the third shutout I believe I’ve ever had,” Coach Chris Hatcher said in a press conference Monday. “You’ve got to take your hat off to Coach Anders and his staff for doing a great job.”
Hatcher and the Racers hope to continue a near-seven-quarter shutout this weekend as they take on the Tennessee State Tigers Saturday at Roy Stewart Stadium.      Continuing the shutout will not be an easy task.
In its first two games, Tennessee State (1-1) averaged 210 yards rushing and looks to continue that success against a Murray State team yielding almost 110 yards rushing per contest.
“They’re going line up … they’re big and physical,” Hatcher said of their offense. “They like to run it at you. We’re going to have to contain the QB and limit the big play.”
Combine a running attack with a young, athletic defense that has averaged four turnovers per game and the Murray State Racers are looking at a challenge for their first home game of the season.
“This week’s a different challenge,” Hatcher said. “When you turn on the film, I’m not so sure to say that this isn’t the best team we’ve played up to date. All the way across the board, as far as offense, defense, and special teams … if we can shut this team out, we’ve got another feather in our cap.”
One guy to watch in this Saturday’s matchup is up and coming junior wide receiver Hannibal Beauford.
In his first start of the season against Mississippi Valley State, Beauford emerged as a consistent target for Casey Brockman, catching seven passes for 111 yards. He leads the team in reception yards with 120.
“I spent last year behind (Marcus) ‘Soup’ Harris, learning from him and watching him attack defenses,” Beauford said. “I’m ready to contribute what I can.”
Hatcher and the offense has been looking for a go-to guy to jumpstart Brockman and the passing game.
“(Beauford) was our most consistent receiver out of camp,” Hatcher said. “We moved him around and finally put him in the X spot.  Hard, competing type guy and it was big for him to have a good game this past Saturday.”
Coming off of OVC Player of the Week honors, senior running back Mike Harris will look to keep defenses honest after rushing for 104 yards and two touchdowns in just 19 carries against Mississippi Valley State.
After two games, Harris averaged 110.5 yards rushing per game and is the focal point of the Murray State offense.
With the recent hot streak of turnovers and stops, the defense will certainly continue to play a major role, and Saturday’s matchup is no different.
“We hope to continue to force turnovers and just swarm to the ball,” junior defensive back Julian Whitehead said.  “We want to give our offense good field position as often as possible.”
This game not only marks the beginning of OVC play for the Racers, but it is also an important weekend for the Murray State community, celebrating Family Weekend.
Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

QUICK FACTS

  • The Racers have won six of their last eight home openers, but are looking for their first home opener win under Hatcher’s direction.
  • Last weekend the Racers defeated the Mississippi Valley Devils 39-0 in Murray State’s first shutout on the road since 1996.
  • Victory over Tennessee State last year made Hatcher the fifth youngest coach to 100 college football victories just behind Pop Warner.
  • Senior running back Mike Harris was named OVC Player of the Week for his performance against Mississippi Valley last Saturday.

Contact Marlowe