Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
Fans, students and alumni were all in attendance to watch Murray State drop their homecoming game against Eastern Kentucky 26-13.
The loss moves Murray State to 2-6 on the season, while 1-3 in the OVC. Despite a late run by the Racer offense, where senior wide receiver found the end zone with 2:44 left in the fourth quarter to narrow the deficit to 26-13, the Colonels held on to rain on the Racers’ homecoming parade.
Gandy’s late spark was seemingly the highlight of an offensive attack that was stagnant throughout the game. Junior kicker Gabriel Vicente managed to knock down two field goals, but it was Eastern Kentucky’s prolific running game that sealed the game.
The Colonels dominated the Racers on the ground, amassing 299 yards rushing. The bulk of that came from sophomore running back Daryl McCleskey, who recorded 156 yards. Junior running back LJ Scott also pitched in by adding 36 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior defensive tackle Bishop Woods said his team’s inability to halt the ground game came down to their lack of execution on the defensive end.
“If we did what we were supposed to do, it wouldn’t have been that hard,” Woods said. “We had a couple miscommunications, but if we held our spots and held our blocks like we’re taught to do then it would’ve been a different outcome, but we weren’t doing what coach told us to do.”
Murray State’s running woes continued into Saturday’s matchup. DJ Penick led the charge, running for 43 yards on the way to just 63 rushing yards total for the Racer offense. Head Coach Mitch Stewart said his team’s lack of a balanced offensive attack will be their undoing unless they can formulate adjustments.
“The bottom line is if we can’t figure out ways to run the football, then we’re not going to be very effective on offense right now.”
Junior quarterback Shuler Bentley’s 210 yards and one touchdown slightly surpassed Eastern Kentucky’s senior quarterback, Tim Boyle, who threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Stewart commended the Racers’ attack through the air, despite those glaring deficiencies on the ground.
“I thought we threw the ball around well, especially considering that everyone in the place knew that that was all we could do,” Stewart said. “So I think 200 yards passing when everyone knows that’s all that you can have in your repertoire, then that’s pretty good.”
Murray State will have a chance to avenge two-straight losses when they meet Jacksonville State (7-1) at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 4 in Jacksonville, Alabama.