Story by Collin Morris, contributing writer
Murray State upheld its tradition of earning a victory on Homecoming weekend with a 38-31 upset against No. 25 Tennessee State Saturday.
The Homecoming festivities began at Roy Stewart Stadium with Tent City, which continued into the pregame ceremonies. Prior to kickoff, Racer fans were introduced to the Homecoming court, as well as the winner of the best Homecoming Parade float. At halftime, the 1986 OVC Championship football team, along with their head coach and Murray State Hall of Famer Frank Beamer, was also recognized in accordance to the Homecoming theme of “Decades: Building Memories.”
A 31-yard field goal to open the game was converted by Tennessee State but Murray State responded with a score of its own. Redshirt senior quarterback KD Humphries threw a 25-yard touchdown to freshman receiver Tyre Gray to give the Racers a 7-3 lead.
Following the touchdown, the Racers’ defense forced a turnover on downs against the Tigers and set themselves up for another drive lasting 1:08, this time ending in a 52-yard touchdown pass from Humphries to redshirt junior running back Demetric Johnson.
After a brief sequence of plays and an official’s ruling giving the Tigers a field goal attempt with one-second remaining, the Racers went into halftime trailing 20-17.
Murray State and Tennessee State then went back and forth with each team getting multiple stops, leading the teams to a score of 31-23, Racers up with 9:09 remaining in the game. The Racers received a punt and ended their drive only 13 seconds later. Humphries, shrouded by man coverage, found a neglected Jordon Gandy, junior receiver, at the end of a 75-yard heave downfield with no defender in sight. Tennessee State went on to score once more and succeeded in a two-point conversion attempt but ultimately lost the game after a missed field goal and final clock-depleting drive by the Racers.
Humphries led both teams in total yardage, as well as touchdowns with a 398-yard, five-touchdown performance. Jesse Blackburn, senior receiver, led all players in total receiving yards with 132. Johnson followed closely behind with 91 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
On defense, junior linebacker Marico Paige and senior defensive lineman Zuri Elrington split a pair of quarterback sacks, while Nigel Walton, freshman defensive back, and Zach Shipley, redshirt junior defensive back, each had an interception. Toby Omli, senior defensive back, also led all defensive players with 11 total tackles.
Humphries said it was humbling to have won in his senior Homecoming game in front of Frank Beamer and the 1986 OVC Championship team.
“Just having those guys’ support and going out there and playing for those guys who have put in their blood, sweat and tears is a big win for us,” Humphries said. “We kept the tradition going; one thing at Murray State is you don’t lose on Homecoming.”
The Murray State football team will look to continue its streak at noon Nov. 5 in Richmond, Kentucky, as it takes on Eastern Kentucky.