Thirteen seniors were honored pre-game for Senior Night as the Racers kicked off their season at home against Union College Thursday night. Pre-game concluded with hundreds of freshmen led by President Bob Davies rushing the field in the first ever “Gold Rush” hosted jointly by Athletic Marketing and Promotions and the Office of Student Affairs.
A touchback by kicker Carson Greifenkamp, junior from Murray, Ky., began the Racers making quick work of the Union Bulldogs. After a fumble recovered by the Racers, senior quarterback C.J. Bennett from Tampa, Fla., found the hands of junior receiver Janawski Davis, from Eight Mile, Ala., for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game.
A punt returned by junior Shawn Samuels-Connell gave the Racers their second touchdown of the game just shy of the five-minute mark. The Racers continued to dominate play as Bennett attempted to handoff to sophomore runningback Marcus Holliday to force the touchdown from just a few yards out. After two short runs by Holliday, Bennett completed a pass to junior receiver Jeremy Harness for the Racers’ third touchdown.
The Bulldogs rallied shortly with a pass complete to Domonique Jefferson for a first down at the 12 yard line. LaVance Anderson received a handoff from quarterback Chandler Whittlesey for Union’s first touchdown of the game.
A series of incomplete passes led the Racers to punt. Redshirt freshman Zach Bogard’s punt was down inside the one yard line.
A few plays later, the Racers fell back into stride when Samuels-Connell returned a Bulldog punt. Bennett took a short run on the next play before stepping out of bounds. On the next down, he completed a pass to Harness for the final touchdown of the quarter with just 43.3 seconds remaining.
The Racers ended the quarter with a sack by sophomore linebacker Jonathan Jackson.
Junior Janawski Davis kicked off the second quarter’s excitement with a punt return for a touchdown. A few plays later, Union’s punter, sophomore Alex Sigmon received a bad snap, but was able to recover and punt. Incomplete passes by Bennett followed before Greifenkamp put 3 points on the board with a 41-yard field goal.
Union found another short surge of energy as Whittlesey completed a pass to Domonique Jefferson. Jefferson was stopped by senior Cadarious Sanders at the two-yard line. On the next down, Anderson carried the ball for a Union touchdown. The Racers were able to block the extra point, leaving Union with just 13 points on the board.
Union attempted an onside kick, but was called offsides and penalized 5 yards on the rekick. Sigmon then attempted a sky kick, which was caught by senior linebacker Travis Taylor. Taylor was taken down at the Racer 45 yard line. Sophomore runningback Roman Clay had the next carry for a first down at the Union 27-yard line.
Bennett once again found the hands of Davis for a touchdown, giving the Racers a 32 point lead.
The defense had a few plays to shine as junior defensive end Zach Dean stopped a run by Anderson. Redshirt freshman safety Cedric Jones and junior tackle Demetrius Mason combined on the next stop for the Racers before Dean sacked Whittlesey, forcing the Bulldogs to punt.
Junior runningback Pokey Harris found his time to shine with just a few minutes left in the half. Harris carried for a first down before Bennett found the hands of sophomore receiver Mitch Stultz, who went out of bounds at the Union 27 yard line. Pokey found another first down, then carried 21 yards for a touchdown with just over a minute left in the half. Greifenkamp tallied his seventh extra point of the game to put the Racers up 52-13 at the end of the first half.
The second half started off more slowly than the first, with the Racers kick return stopped by Anderson. Holliday carried the ball for a first down at the 30 yard line before a short run by Bennett to gain just two yards. Holliday carried once again to be stopped by Union freshman linebacker Jake Averhart. Bogard’s punt went out of bounds at the Union 34.
A personal foul against Cedric Jones on a quarterback keep by Whittlesey cost the Racers yards. An incomplete pass leaves the bulldogs with possession at the fifty yard line. Anderson had a short carry before being stopped by senior linebacker Perry Cooper.
The Racer defense was unable to stop the Bulldogs as Whittlesey found the hands of junior wide receiver Kyle Keplinger. A short run found him in the endzone for a Bulldog touchdown.
Things got interesting when the extra point was blocked and recovered by Jonathan Jackson. Jackson put two points on the board with an extra point return.
Sophomore Jesse Blackburn returned a short kick to the Racers’ 40 yard line before sophomore runningback Roman Clay had a chance to carry twice. Harris also racked up a carry before Bennett completed a touchdown pass to Davis once again. Greifenkamp’s extra point was also blocked, but the Bulldogs were unable to recover and return as the Racers just had.
Sophomore quarterback K.D. Humphries entered the game to relieve Bennett with approximately seven and a half minutes left in the third quarter. Humphries passed to junior receiver Paul Rice for a 34-yard touchdown almost immediately after entering the game. Within a few downs, a fumble recovered by Union freshman Jabari Weeks led to a 95-yard touchdown. At the end of the third quarter, the Racers led 67-26.
Both teams agreed to shorten the fourth quarter to six minutes, and at the start of the clock the Racers wasted no time in scoring. Freshman runningback Nick Taylor found the endzone just 57 seconds in. A failed attempt at a trick play on the extra point left the Racers up 73-26.
An injury timeout soon followed as junior linebacker T-Ray Malone was shaken up on a play.
Senior quarterback Parks Frazier entered the game with a minute and a half left to play. The clock wound down as much of the Racers’ second and third string played the last snap of the game.
Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor