It was deja vu all over again as the Racers headed into double overtime against Southeast Missouri State Saturday.
Last season, the Racers faced off against the Redhawks at SEMO on a rainy Saturday, and finished in triple overtime. This year, the weather was no different. A few differences this year included a home field advantage, a new Redhawks head coach and the fact that SEMO was ranked 23rd in the nation.
“It definitely crossed my mind – last year when we lost against them in OT – so we definitely owed them one,” said senior wide receiver Nevar Griffin after the game. “It felt good to get this W in OT this time.”
Long before there was even an inkling thought of a double overtime finish, the Racers wasted no time taking an early lead. Quarterback K.D. Humphries connected with Griffin for a touchdown less than five minutes into the first quarter. This was the first of three touchdowns the duo would tack on the scoreboard during the game, a career-high for Griffin.
“Really, all our receivers, any given day, any of us can have a big game,” Griffin said. “We all work so hard. We have constant film study together with K.D. We all talk to him, so we all work on our chemistry together. It was just today, I was just able to get open and make plays for the team.”
Injuries on both sides caused two SEMO players and one Murray State player to be assisted off the field during the first quarter.
The second scoring play of the game came with less than two minutes to play in the quarter. SEMO’s Ryan McCrum kicked a 21-yard field goal, and the clock wound down with the Racers leading 7-3.
The Redhawks were the first on the board in the second quarter as quarterback Kyle Snyder found the hands of receiver Adrian Davis for a five-yard pass to put them above the Racers 10-7.
The Racers returned the favor less than a minute later when Humphries passed to receiver Janawski Davis for a 75-yard touchdown.
The Redhawks once again put three points on the board with a last minute field goal by McCrum. The half ended with the Racers up 14-13.
The Racers kept their pace going into the second half as Humphries and Griffin teamed up again to put a touchdown on the board less than a minute in, extending their lead to eight.
Redhawk quarterback Kyle Snyder rushed for a touchdown with just 2:07 left on the clock in the third quarter. Southeast Missouri’s two-point conversion tied the game at 21.
The Racers took the lead again shortly after off a five-yard pass from Humphries to DeQavius Walker with just 28 seconds left in the quarter.
The fourth quarter did not provide such an easy start for the Racers, and SEMO scored two uncontested touchdowns to take the lead 35-28. The Racers found their groove again as Humphries found Griffin once more with 46 seconds left on the clock. They chose to take the extra point to tie the game 35-35, and head into overtime at the end of four quarters.
The Redhawks won the coin toss and opted to start on defense. Kicker Carson Greifenkamp kicked a 20-yard field goal to put the Racers up 38-35 as SEMO took over on offense.
St. Pierre Anilus sacked Snyder on third down and the game appeared to be over, but Redhawk kicker Ryan McCrum forced play to continue as he hit a 52-yard field goal to tie the game.
In second overtime, the Racers took over on defense first. McCrum kicked a 30-yard field goal to put the Redhawks on top.
The Racers took over on offense and a pass from Humphries to Davis put them ahead to end the game 44-41 after two overtime periods.
“I don’t know at the end of the game whether I was relieved or excited, or a little bit of both, but I’m really proud of our football team,” said Head Coach Chris Hatcher. “Great game. Played the 23rd ranked team in the country; go toe-to-toe with them.”
Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor