Two touchdowns by Tennessee State in the fourth quarter left Head Coach Chris Hatcher with nothing to say to his team after the 17-10 loss.
“At the end of the game in the locker room, I told the guys ‘I’m proud of the fight; I really don’t have anything else to tell you,’” he said.
The Racers took on the toughest defense in the OVC Saturday at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn.
For most of the game, Murray State was in control.
In his second game as a starter, quarterback Parks Frazier was able to find the holes in the Tiger defense in the first half.
“We were clicking in the first half,” Frazier said. “Everything was going well and TSU was pretty much giving us exactly what we thought they would.”
Frazier threw for 199 yards and a touchdown in the first half, while the defense held the Tigers to 87 total yards.
Despite the lack of run support, the Racers pushed down the field in three of their first four drives. One ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Pokey Harris, one resulted in a missed field goal and one was capped by a 24-yard field goal by kicker Marc Wynstra.
“The first half, we played like we’re accustomed to seeing our offense play,” Hatcher said. “We pitched and caught the ball really well. We had some good runs when we needed to sprinkled in there.”
Meanwhile, the defense forced a punt on all but the last of the Tigers’ first-half drives, giving Murray State a 10-3 lead after 30 minutes of play.
The second half, though, was a different story.
“The second half we got beat up front,” Hatcher said. “We couldn’t run the ball. When we did throw the ball, we dropped it. We never got in sync the second half. That’s kind of been the story of our season.”
After finding success earlier in the game, the offense failed to convert a single first down in the second half.
Though the defense did give nearly 150 yards and 14 points in the fourth quarter, Hatcher said Murray State should have been able to win.
“If you hold a team to 17 points, with our offense, you should win the ball game,” he said. “I’m just disappointed for those guys that we couldn’t find a way to win a game that I thought we were in control of all the way to the fourth quarter.”
Now the Racers turn their sights to the final game of the season Saturday against Eastern Kentucky. The Colonels have won eight consecutive games in the series, and Murray State has not won at home since 1999.
A win would give the Racers a final record of 6-6, marking the third time in Hatcher’s four seasons at Murray State in which the team has finished with at least a .500 record.
The last matchup could prove tougher than usual due to several players being out. All-American wide receiver Walter Powell cannot play after suffering a foot injury two weeks ago playing against Eastern Illinois. Receiver Nevar Griffin has been suspended and will not play Saturday.
Backup wide receiver Janawski Davis is likely to miss the game due to an injury last week, according to Hatcher.
“We’re kind of in a bind,” he said. “We’re running out of dudes.”
It is not only the lack of players that is the problem, but the lack of key playmakers poses the bigger threat.
“The bottom line is we don’t have that playmaker that we can push the ball down the field to,” Hatcher said. “At the end of the day, you’ve got to be able to run the ball and you have to be able to stop the run. We can’t run the ball at all right now. That’s our biggest issue.”
Story by Ryan Richardson, Sports Editor