Racers defeat SEMO, finsh strong

Senior running back Walter Powell runs past the SEMO defense with the help of block by sophomore offensive lineman, Drew Kelley. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

Senior running back Walter Powell runs past the SEMO defense with the help of block by sophomore offensive lineman, Drew Kelley. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

It was the last time senior quarterback Casey Brockman would see the clock hit :00 with him on the field as the Racers’ leader.

Fortunately enough for Brockman and the rest of the senior class, it all chalked up to one final win for the exiting squad, as Murray State (5–6, 4–4 OVC) defeated the Southeast Missouri Redhawks (3–8, 2–6 OVC) Nov. 17 by a final score of 42 – 35.

SEMO got on the board first as senior kicker Drew Geldbach booted a 36-yard field goal with 9:13 left in the first quarter.

However, the Racers responded immediately as junior wide receiver Walter Powell gashed the SEMO special teams unit by returning the ensuing kickoff 83 yards.

Brockman made light work of the short field position, hitting senior wide receiver Ja-Vonta Trotter in the middle of the end zone for the seven-yard touchdown. The Racers never trailed again.

Both SEMO and Murray State clamped down on defense as the score remained 7–3 after the first quarter ended. SEMO’s usually effective option attack was gaining yards but could not hit the home run, while Brockman and company were forced into tough throws and short check downs where multiple defenders were waiting to snuff out any yards after the catch.

A deep punt into Racer territory completely changed the momentum of the game.

With 9:30 left to play in the second quarter, Redhawks junior punter Joe Vucic booted the ball 53 yards for what looked like an obvious touchback situation.

Powell saw things a little differently, however, and, after catching the ball just inside the end zone, decided to race through a sea of red jerseys for an FCS-record 100-yard punt return touchdown and a 14–3 lead.

The Redhawks never faded, however, as senior running back Levi Terrell (25 carries, 215 yards, two TDs) and sophomore running back Ron Coleman both scored touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, with Coleman knotting it up at 35-all

Senior Casey Brockman shares a moment with his parents before playing his last game as the Racers starting quarterback. He finshed his career with 9,990 passing yards. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

with just over three minutes left in the game.

Preparing to take the field for a final chance at some late game heroics, Brockman simply stood on the sideline and watched senior running back Duane Brady return the 85-yard kickoff for a touchdown and the deciding score.

Admittedly, Brockman said he was looking forward to running the final drive of the game and of his Murray State career.

“Yeah, it was just one of those times to kind of redeem what has happened a lot of times this year,” he said. “We needed to go out and score on a game-winning drive … something that we haven’t done all year.”

` Brockman finished his Racer career just 10 yards shy of the 10,000-yard club, though his 189 yards was enough to give him 3,802 total offensive yards on the season, breaking the OVC record set by Samford’s Ray Nelson in 1994.

For Head Coach Chris Hatcher, the win was a bittersweet introspection of the past three years and where the team has progressed from since he first took the whistle as a Racer in 2010.

“We’re not where we want to be, but thank goodness we’re not where we used to be,” Hatcher said. “These guys won 18 games in the last three seasons, and prior to that the Racers had only won 13 in five years. We’re getting better and averaging six wins each year. You look back and you’re roughly a .500 club, and one or two plays later you’re sitting here 9–2 or 8–3. We didn’t get the breaks, we didn’t make the breaks and we didn’t take advantage of the breaks in some of the games we played early on in the year.”

Another chapter is closed in the Racer football tradition.

Writer’s Note:

For most of the season, junior wide receiver Walter Powell’s classification status has been erroneously reported as a senior.

I personally apologized to him for the error after the game and told him I made the mistake “because he has played like a senior all season.”

He laughed and thanked me for the kind words.

Story by Edward Marlowe, staff writer.