Before Saturday’s game against the winless Southeast Missouri Redhawks, it seemed as if the football team would easily roll to a third straight victory and its best start to conference play in 15 years.
Costly turnovers and missed opportunities down the stretch allowed the Redhawks to stay in the game, however, and a triple overtime field goal by SEMO kicker Alex Knight handed the Racers a devastating 37-34 loss.
With numerous chances for his team to put the game away, Head Coach Chris Hatcher struggled to describe his disappointment.
“Words can’t describe it,” Hatcher said. “We made a lot of mistakes, but our guys played hard. We had chances to win at the end on several different occasions and couldn’t do it.”
The Racers came out flat, struggling to find an answer for the mobile Redhawk quarterback Scott Lathrop, who scored twice in the opening quarter.
The sophomore signal caller orchestrated several lengthy drives, allowing the Redhawks to control the clock and keep the Racer offense on the sideline for much of the half.
Murray State continued to struggle defensively as the second half began. At the 8:25 mark of the third quarter, Lathrop and senior wide receiver DJ Foster connected on a touchdown pass for the second time of the day, putting the Redhawks up 20-6.
Faced with its biggest deficit of the day, the Racer offense came to life. Sophomore quarterback Maikhail Miller led Murray State to three unanswered touchdowns, giving the Racers a 27-20 lead with 7:10 to go.
On the following drive, senior defensive back Josh Manning intercepted a Lathrop pass to give the Racer offense a chance to put the game out of reach.
Three plays later, freshman linebacker Roper Garrett intercepted Miller’s pass, giving the Redhawks a second chance to tie the game.
With 55 seconds to play, Redhawk receiver Paul McRoberts made an acrobatic catch in the corner of the endzone to tie the game at 27 and force overtime.
Both teams scored touchdowns in their first overtime possessions.
The Racers earned another opportunity to snatch the victory in double overtime when Darrell Smith intercepted Lathrop in the endzone.
All the Racers needed to do was kick a field goal to end the ball game.
Miller methodically moved the offense down inside the 10-yard line. Easily within field goal range, Miller fumbled the ball away, sending the game to a third overtime.
The Racer offense failed to get anything going in the third extra period. Jordan Benton missed a 42-yard field goal attempt, which put the Redhawks in position to steal the win.
SEMO earned one first down before bringing on Knight to kick the game winner.
“We never really got into rhythm until late in the ball game,” Hatcher said. “When you get down here with a chance to put the game away, you’ve got to take advantage.”
The loss dropped the Racers to 4-3 on the season and 2-1 in OVC play.
Senior defensive back Brandon Wicks said the team must now put the loss behind them and move forward.
“We always knew (SEMO) was better than (its) record,” Wicks said. “Records don’t mean anything when you get into conference play. We’ve just got to come out next week and play a better game than we did today.”
Story by Jonathan Ferris, Staff Writer