Jonathan Ferris || Staff writer
Despite the nostalgia of Homecoming Saturday, the Murray State football team was able to leave the past behind, rebounding from a triple-overtime defeat last week to soundly defeat the Austin Peay Governors 31-3.
Senior running back Jaamal Berry said forgetting the loss was a key to the Racers’ victory over the long-time rival Governors.
“We did a good job forgetting the past and not dwelling on that loss we had,” Berry said.
The Racers relied heavily on an impressive performance on the defensive side of the ball, forcing the Governors to punt nine times, while only giving up 60 yards through the air.
The Austin Peay offense struggled out of the gate, punting on six of its first seven drives.
Early in the second quarter, the Governors made a change at quarterback, replacing starter Jacob Sexton with redshirt freshman Timarious Mitchell.
Mitchell also struggled to get anything past the Murray State secondary, completing eight of 16 pass attempts for 50 yards.
It took the Racer offense a few drives to get-going, but a big day from Berry and a pair of fourth quarter scores put the game out of reach and secured the Murray State victory.
“With the way our defense was playing, we felt like it was a field position game,” Head Coach Chris Hatcher said. “At the end of the game I thought our offense did a great job of milking the clock down and having a couple scores to put the game away.”
Berry took advantage of an increased workload with fellow running back Duane Brady out with an ankle injury.
The former Ohio State Buckeye earned his first 100-yard game of the season, taking 22 carries for 148 yards and two touchdowns, including a 40-yard sprint to open the scoring in the first quarter.
“I give praise to the (offensive) linemen holding their blocks and the receivers holding their blocks to get me to the second level,” Berry said. ”It’s definitely a relief to get that first 100-yard game. The sky is the limit from now on.”
Senior receiver Walter Powell also had a big day, and he rewrote the record books at Murray State in the process.
Entering the game, Powell needed 15 yards to pass Marcus Harris as Murray State’s all-time leader in career receiving yards. Powell finished with six receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown, and now stands alone atop the record book with 2,515 career receiving yards..
Powell caught his 13th touchdown of the season, tying the All-American with fellow OVC receiver Erik Lora for the most touchdown receptions in the entire Football Championship Subdivision this season.
After kicking off the season with a game in each of the first eight weeks, the Racers now head into a much-needed bye week.
The team sits in third place in the conference standings with a 3-1 record in OVC play and a 5-3 overall record.
With several players dealing with nagging injuries and a season full of close games, Hatcher said his team is more than ready for a short break.
“I think our guys need to get away a little bit and come back energized, because we’ve got a really tough stretch of games coming up in November,” Hatcher said.
After the bye week, the Racers face a tough four-game stretch to finish their season.
Murray State’s next game is Nov. 2 at UT Martin.