Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer
After a 52-45 loss to UT Martin Oct. 24, the Racers will return to their home turf at Roy Stewart Stadium Oct. 31 to face the Eastern Illinois Panthers. Murray State enters the matchup with a 2-5 record as opposed to Eastern Illinois’ 4-3 record. The Panthers have yet to lose to a conference opponent, while the Racers’ only OVC victory was over Austin Peay State Oct. 10 at Homecoming.
“They’re about as hot of a team as there is right now in this conference,” said Head Coach Mitch Stewart. “They present a lot of problems. They’ve got a lot of different weapons. It’ll be quite a competition.”
The Racers lost an early 17-3 lead against the Skyhawks last weekend when UT Martin put 28 points on the board in the second quarter. The Racers scored two touchdowns in retaliation to enter halftime tied, but they were unable to better the Skyhawks in the second half. Senior Janawski Davis was a team standout with three kick-off returns and 241 all-purpose yards during the game, including an 85-yard return for a touchdown.
Moving ahead, the Halloween game against Eastern Illinois will kickoff at 1 p.m. Last season, the Panthers bettered the Racers 46-28 at Roy Stewart Stadium, and they hold a 17-13 series advantage in all-time meetings. Eastern Illinois is coming off a 51-20 win over Tennessee Tech, but averages 362.3 total yards of offense per game as opposed to the Racers’ 483.4. The teams differ, however, in allowance of yardage. Murray State allows an average of 504.7 yards per game from their opponents while Eastern Illinois allows only 352.7.
“We do a theme of the week every week, and this week is ‘respond,’” Stewart said. “And that’s the thing, we challenge these guys. We’re going to see how they respond to what’s been happening.”
The Racers have four games remaining in the season and will play at home just one more time after facing the Panthers when they take to the field against Eastern Kentucky Nov. 14.
“It’s another chance to compete,” Stewart said. “That’s the reason why you play the game, bottom line – especially for some of these guys who are running out of time. They’ve got four games left. You’ve got four more chances to wear those pads and strap ‘em up tight and wear Nike stuff. Because when you get done, all that stuff? You’re going to put it in the closet and never going to wear it again. So you’ve got four more opportunities to go out there and play.”