It was a slippery slope for the Racers as fumbles dominated the game against the Austin Peay State Governors Saturday at the new Governors Stadium.
A pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback K.D. Humphries to sophomore receiver Jesse Blackburn was apparently fumbled and recovered by the Governors to the endzone, but was ruled on the field to be an incomplete pass. On the very next play, a handoff to sophomore runningback Marcus Holliday slipped out of his hands but was called down. On the next snap, Humphries fumbled the ball but recovered it for a slight loss. This series of botched plays forced the Racers to punt on their opening drive for the second time this season. The only other occurance of an opening-play punt this season was during the Louisville game.
The Racers were able to come out with the lead at first with a 36-yard field goal by junior kicker Carson Greifenkamp just under ten minutes into the first quarter.
The Governors were the victims of slick hands in the second quarter as they fumbled but were able to recover. A pass from quarterback Mickey Macius intended for receiver Jared Beard was dropped directly out of Beard’s hands. The Governors attempted to fake a punt for a first down with 3:30 left in the first half, but the Racers got the stop and took over at their own 46-yard line.
An incomplete pass intended for junior receiver Janawski Davis kicked off a series of unfortunate plays for the Racers. On the next pass, Austin Peay’s sophomore cornerback Roderick Owens intercepted and returned the ball 39 yards to the Murray State 30-yard line. Governor quarterback Mickey Macius connected with freshman wide receiver Jared Beard for a 30-yard touchdown. Austin Peay took their first lead in a football game since their 2013 game against Southeast Missouri State University.
The Racers came back to action quickly in an attempt to make it down the field before the end of the half. Humphries made two consecutive successful handoffs to Holliday for a large gain before Holliday fumbled on the third. The Governors recovered at their own 23-yard line.
The half ended with Austin Peay leading Murray State 7-3.
The Racers wasted no time in working their way back to a lead in the second half. Harris carried 24 yards for a Racer touchdown just three minutes into the third quarter. Greifenkamp made the extra point and the Racers took the lead 10-7.
Austin Peay’s Macius and Beard changed the game once again with six minutes left to play in the third when they connected for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Freshman kicker Dakota Vincil missed the PAT, and the lead stayed 13-10 with 6:01 left to play in the third quarter.
The Racers’ next series looked hopeful as they worked their way down the field. Starting at the ten-yard line, Humphries scrambled before sending a pass into the endzone to be intercepted by Roderick Owens once again. Owens fumbled out of bounds, but Austin Peay received the touchback and took over from the 20-yard line.
An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty was called on both sides, offsetting for an Austin Peay fourth down. The Racers were penalized for stepping over their opponent after the play, and the Governors for a shove that ensued. Austin Peay was forced to punt, and Davis fumbled on the return, which was recovered by Owens at the Murray State 20-yard line.
Macius connected with his receiver, Jared Beard, for the third time of the night for a touchdown. The extra kick was good and the Governors took the lead 20-10 with just 26 seconds left in the third quarter.
A fumble finally fell into the Racers’ hands with just over seven minutes left to play in the game. Austin Peay’s freshman runningback Otis Gerron was forced to fumble by Murray State’s Travis Taylor, and was recovered by Demetrius Mason at the Austin Peay 31-yard line.
The Racers worked their way into position for a field goal, and junior kicker Carson Greifenkamp added three points to the board from the 28-yard line. The Governors held onto a 7-point lead with 4:59 left to play.
After a series of plays and a forced punt by the Governors, the Racers took over from their own 44-yard line. They worked their way downfield before a fumble changed the game yet again. Humphries completed a pass to Harness for 11-yards to the Austin Peay 26-yard line before Austin Peay’s Montez Carlton forced the fumble and the Governors recovered. Austin Peay began their drive with just 3:01 left in the game.
The clock wound down as the Governors made their way down the field, winning their first game of the season 20-13.