Story by Mark McFarland, Sports Editor
Missouri State defeated the Racers 28-22 at Roy Stewart Stadium Saturday night, avenging its 2013 loss.
Offensively, the Racers turned the ball over throwing three interceptions and lost one fumble. Head Coach Mitch Stewart said in order for his team to be successful, they need to cut down on the turnovers.
“If we keep turning the ball over like we’re doing, we are not going to be very successful,” he said. “I haven’t seen a whole lot of stats, but I can tell you this if we don’t stop that stat right there then we’re going to have some problems moving forward.”
The Racers have turned the ball over six times in the two games they played so far this season.
Even with the turnovers, the Racers were able to find people to step up. Junior wide receiver Jordan Gandy stepped up and finished the game with seven receptions, 104 yards and two touchdowns after senior wide receiver Jesse Blackburn was ejected at the end of the second quarter for a targeting penalty. Gandy’s first touchdown was a 55-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterback KD Humphries.
Defensively, the Racers applied pressure to Missouri State’s quarterback, sacking him one time, forcing sophomore quarterback Breck Ruddick to make plays with his feet. Ruddick extended several drives by running out of the pocket and completing passes to help cap off scoring drives. Racers redshirt sophomore linebacker Lamont Crittendon said Ruddick helped put his team into a position to where they could score.
“I think him being able to move definitely helped him extend plays, get out of the pocket and get the ball down field,” Crittendon said. “That’s one thing I noticed tonight, when he made plays with his feet he wasn’t looking to get vertical and run the ball himself, he was looking to extend the play and get the ball down field.”
Ruddick finished the game throwing 21-37, 295 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.
The Racers continued to battle back into the game down nine points with less than two minutes when senior kicker Connor Mitchell kicked 37-yard field goal to put the Racers down 28-22. Murray State attempted the onside kick, but it failed to recover. Stewart said his team fought hard and continued to battle throughout the game.
“I thought our kids played hard,” he said. “I thought they played all four quarters. Obviously, if we get an onside kick there at the end, we have the chance to go score. I really think our kids believed we were going to do that.”
The Racers will play at 6 p.m. Saturday at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Illinois. The next home game will be at 6 p.m. during Family Weekend Sept. 24 against Southeast Missouri State.