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Racers defeat SEMO, finsh strong

Senior running back Walter Powell runs past the SEMO defense with the help of block by sophomore offensive lineman, Drew Kelley. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

It was the last time senior quarterback Casey Brockman would see the clock hit :00 with him on the field as the Racers’ leader.

Fortunately enough for Brockman and the rest of the senior class, it all chalked up to one final win for the exiting squad, as Murray State (5–6, 4–4 OVC) defeated the Southeast Missouri Redhawks (3–8, 2–6 OVC) Nov. 17 by a final score of 42 – 35.

SEMO got on the board first as senior kicker Drew Geldbach booted a 36-yard field goal with 9:13 left in the first quarter.

However, the Racers responded immediately as junior wide receiver Walter Powell gashed the SEMO special teams unit by returning the ensuing kickoff 83 yards.

Brockman made light work of the short field position, hitting senior wide receiver Ja-Vonta Trotter in the middle of the end zone for the seven-yard touchdown. The Racers never trailed again.

Both SEMO and Murray State clamped down on defense as the score remained 7–3 after the first quarter ended. SEMO’s usually effective option attack was gaining yards but could not hit the home run, while Brockman and company were forced into tough throws and short check downs where multiple defenders were waiting to snuff out any yards after the catch.

A deep punt into Racer territory completely changed the momentum of the game.

With 9:30 left to play in the second quarter, Redhawks junior punter Joe Vucic booted the ball 53 yards for what looked like an obvious touchback situation.

Powell saw things a little differently, however, and, after catching the ball just inside the end zone, decided to race through a sea of red jerseys for an FCS-record 100-yard punt return touchdown and a 14–3 lead.

The Redhawks never faded, however, as senior running back Levi Terrell (25 carries, 215 yards, two TDs) and sophomore running back Ron Coleman both scored touchdowns late in the fourth quarter, with Coleman knotting it up at 35-all

Senior Casey Brockman shares a moment with his parents before playing his last game as the Racers starting quarterback. He finshed his career with 9,990 passing yards. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

with just over three minutes left in the game.

Preparing to take the field for a final chance at some late game heroics, Brockman simply stood on the sideline and watched senior running back Duane Brady return the 85-yard kickoff for a touchdown and the deciding score.

Admittedly, Brockman said he was looking forward to running the final drive of the game and of his Murray State career.

“Yeah, it was just one of those times to kind of redeem what has happened a lot of times this year,” he said. “We needed to go out and score on a game-winning drive … something that we haven’t done all year.”

` Brockman finished his Racer career just 10 yards shy of the 10,000-yard club, though his 189 yards was enough to give him 3,802 total offensive yards on the season, breaking the OVC record set by Samford’s Ray Nelson in 1994.

For Head Coach Chris Hatcher, the win was a bittersweet introspection of the past three years and where the team has progressed from since he first took the whistle as a Racer in 2010.

“We’re not where we want to be, but thank goodness we’re not where we used to be,” Hatcher said. “These guys won 18 games in the last three seasons, and prior to that the Racers had only won 13 in five years. We’re getting better and averaging six wins each year. You look back and you’re roughly a .500 club, and one or two plays later you’re sitting here 9–2 or 8–3. We didn’t get the breaks, we didn’t make the breaks and we didn’t take advantage of the breaks in some of the games we played early on in the year.”

Another chapter is closed in the Racer football tradition.

Writer’s Note:

For most of the season, junior wide receiver Walter Powell’s classification status has been erroneously reported as a senior.

I personally apologized to him for the error after the game and told him I made the mistake “because he has played like a senior all season.”

He laughed and thanked me for the kind words.

Story by Edward Marlowe, staff writer.

 

Defense proves tough for Tennessee State

The Racers upset the Tigers 49-28 Saturday night, removing them from the top 25 in FCS rankings. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

The Tennessee State team (8-2, 4-2 OVC) walked into Roy Stewart Stadium last Saturday ranked No. 18 in the FCS, looking to tack on another “W” to their already impressive resume.

The Racers (4-5, 3-3 OVC), however, failed to receive the memo, drilling the Tigers for 29 unanswered points en-route to a 49-28 victory. Junior running back Jaamal Berry scored three touchdowns and ran for 163 yards on 16 carries, while senior quarterback Casey Brockman completed 27-of-38 for 271 yards and two touchdowns.

The offense didn’t stop there for the Racers, as senior running back Duane Brady chipped in nine carries for 78 yards, while senior wide receiver Walter Powell returned to form with eight catches, 117 yards and a touchdown.

Despite putting up another 500-yard offensive day, Head Coach Chris Hatcher was quick to credit a vastly improving defense for the win last weekend.

“It was a huge win for us over a top-20 opponent,” Hatcher said. “I thought the past two weeks our defense has really improved a lot, and even after watching the film we’ve made significant strides this week over our Jacksonville State performance. We tackled better, we had very few busted assignments and we’re playing with great confidence on that side of the ball. Offensively, we just continue to get better each and every week.”

While the defense has been a low point for the team this season, Hatcher said the key to their success was keeping their scheme simple.

“We just lined up and played defense,” Hatcher said. “That’s just what we did. We lined up, we played our gaps and we tackled well and that’s something we’ve done a lot better the last two weeks than we did earlier in the season. … This is not a complicated game. Sometimes everybody tries to make it complicated, but on defense you just line up, you play your assignments and you’re very aggressive and with confidence good things will happen to you defensively.”

Despite being mathematically eliminated from playoff and championship contention, it was the fifth straight win over Tennessee State for the Racers.

The loss dropped the Tigers out of the FCS rankings, while the victory could prove to be the momentum needed for the Racers to close out the season on a high note.

A win Saturday will not come easy, however, as the Racers travel to Richmond, Ky., to face the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Murray State lost a 34-33 heartbreaker to Eastern Kentucky last year at a Nov. 29 home game.

The Colonels currently have a 7-3 record on the year and are led by senior running back Matt Denham, who paces the offense with 1,172 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns.

“They get in a lot of different formations and Denham is a downhill runner, so we’ve got to limit the power game,” Hatcher said.

The Racers have had a tough time with the Colonels in past years, losing every matchup since 2004.

Senior defender Julian Whitehead and company have yet to defeat Eastern Kentucky in their time at Murray State. Whitehead said he’s ready to break the streak this weekend.

“It’s a special game, being the two teams from Kentucky and we’re still bitter from last year from the one point loss,” Whitehead said. “We know they’re a great team and they’re always one of the top teams in the country. They’re well-respected and we respect them too. We know it’s going to take our very top effort to beat them and we’re going to prepare that way in practice.”

With two games remaining, the Racers need to win out in order to ensure a third straight winning season under Chris Hatcher’s command.

Kickoff is at noon, Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond, Ky.

Story by Jonathan Ferris, Sports Editor and Edward Marlowe, Staff writer.

Skyhawks down Racers: UT Martin spoils Homecoming, hands Racers devastating defeat

UT Martin safety J’Vontez Blackmon tackles senior receiver Ja-Vonta Trotter in the first quarter of Saturday’s 66-59 loss to the Skyhawks. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

Battered but not broken, Head Coach Chris Hatcher and the Racers entered the bye week on the heels of a crushing Homecoming defeat, losing to UT Martin 66–59 this past Saturday.

The loss pushed the team record to 3-4 on the season and 2-2 in the OVC. With four games remaining on the schedule, the Racers will have to go 3-1 just to secure a third consecutive winning season under Hatcher’s guidance, much less to have a shot at the OVC championship crown.

With this in mind, Hatcher said the team has plenty to play for once the break is finished, and the team is looking forward to the challenge of mounting a final push.

“The off-week comes at a very good time for us, not only to heal up physically but to just mentally get away from the game for a little bit,” Hatcher said. “I think it’s going to do wonders for our psyche and I still believe we have a lot left to play for … as a competitor you always have something to play for because you want to compete.”

Senior receiver Walter Powell sprints to the endzone during Saturday’s game. With four contests remaining, Powell needs only eight receptions to tie the Murray State single season receptions record. || Samuel T. Hays/The News

Notching seven wins on the season would make the Racers automatically eligible for the FCS playoffs, and should the Racers hang around near the top of the OVC standings, Hatcher and company believe anything can happen.

“We’re really close,” Hatcher said. “You hear me every week talking about how close we are, and to me, this game this past Saturday was a hump game. It could’ve gone either way.”

Hatcher and the Racers are making a habit of playing close games, especially in the OVC. In eight conference defeats over the two-plus seasons under Hatcher, six of the losses were by one possession or less, and Hatcher believes the landscape of the conference would be much different had the Racers capitalized on just a few small plays in each series.

“If you have a better series here or there in all of those games; we’re the two-time defending conference champions and first place right now in the conference,” he said. “We’ve got to get over the hump, and I don’t know how to make us do that, and if I did, I would’ve done it a long time ago. We’re going to continue to buckle down and focus on the little things, and it’s like a forest fire-it starts with a spark. We need that spark to get us over the hump.”

Shouldering the hopes of the team’s success is none other than senior quarterback Casey Brockman, who conviently leads the FCS in completion percentage (70 percent), attempts (370), completions per game (37), completions (259) and passing yards (2,671).

Along with leading the FCS in multiple categories this year, Brockman is chiseling his name atop nearly all of the Murray State record books, as the offense is averaging 508 yards and 40 points per game and 91 offensive plays per contest.

While senior running back Duane Brady and junior transfer Jamaal Berry have held down the backfield with great authority, it is the consistent play of senior wide receiver Walter Powell who has continued to prove his skill game after game.

With defenses continuing to drape over him, Powell has defied all logic, averaging 130 receiving yards and 11 catches per game. After seven games, his reception numbers (74 catches,

912 yards, six touchdowns) are all on pace to shatter school receiving records, but Powell said he’d trade his stats for something more important.

“It’s tough,” Powell said. “I’d rather come out with the win than putting up another 100-yard game.”

For every yard the Racer offense gains, however, the defense gives up an an equal yard.

Searching for answers, the Racer defense will spend the next two weeks regrouping, as opposing offenses continue to torch the Racers through the air. The defensive secondary is reeling, giving up 370 yards per game. The rush defense has been slightly better, giving up 140 yards on the ground.

Hatcher said the coaches would remain focused on the team effort moving forward and will err on the side of caution and rest for the next two weeks leading up to their next matchup on the road against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks.

For the Racers, every game from now on will have a playoff feel, as hopes remain alive, though slim, for postseason play and a shot at an OVC championship.

Edward Marlowe, Staff Writer

Football dominates Austin Peay

Photo courtesy of Sports Information

The Murray State Racers improved to 3-3 on the year and 2-1 in the OVC with a 52-14 win over Austin Peay (0-6, 0-4 OVC) on Saturday night at Governors Stadium in Clarksville, Tenn.

Senior Casey Brockman (Murray, Ky.) notched his third 400-yard plus game of the season and seventh of his career by going 38-for-43 for 455 yards and five touchdowns. Junior Walter Powell led the Racers’ receiving corps on the night by making nine catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Dontel Watkins (Nashville, Tenn.) also had two scores on the night with six catches for 70 yards.

Brockman entered the game needing just two touchdowns to tie former Racer Michael Proctor (1986-89) for the most touchdown passes in school history. Brockman tied the record in the first quarter with his second score of the night, a 38-yard pass to junior Duane Brady (St. Augustine, Fla,), to give him 52 for his career.

With just 21 seconds left in the first half, Brockman broke the record on a 12-yard pass to senior Ja-Vonta Trotter (St. Petersburg, Fla.) to give the Racers a 24-14 halftime lead. Murray State’s last drive of the half lasted just 34 seconds and went five plays for 45 yards.

With his third pass in the second half, a 16-yarder to freshman Jeremy Harness (Radcliffe, Ky.), Brockman passed former Eastern Illinois and current Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo for third on OVC all-time passing list. Romo ended his four-year career with the Panthers with 8,212 passing yards.

Next up for Brockman on both the OVC and Murray State passing yard leaderboard is Proctor who had 8,682 passing yards in his four years with the Racers. Passing Proctor will not only allow Brockman to become second on the all-time OVC list and first on the all-time Murray State list, it will also allow him to officially top all four major career categories for a Murray State quarterback, including passing yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns.

Those weren’t the only records Brockman broke on the night as he also became the OVC’s all-time leader in completions with 793. He took the record from Morehead State’s Chris Swartz who ended his career with the Eagles with 774. Brockman also passed Swartz on the OVC total offense list, as he now has 8,856 yards of total offense for his career.

In the second half, the Racers poured on the offense with four touchdowns and 279 total yards. Brockman combined with freshman K.D. Humphries (Montgomery, Ala.) in the frame for 233 passing yards on 18 completions. Murray State ended the game with 35 straight unanswered points.

Humphries closed out the game with a nine-yard pass to Watkins with just over six minutes to play for his first collegiate touchdown. Freshman Marc Wynstra (Murray, Ky.) got a first of his own on the play, by kicking his first collegiate extra point.

Defensively, the Racers were led by freshman T-Ray Malone (Smyrna, Tenn.) who had 11 total tackles on the night, including four solo and one for a loss. Junior Corey Addison (Jacksonville, Fla.) led the team in solo tackles in the game with five to finish the night with six total

The Racers will return to action at The Track next Saturday for homecoming. Murray State will host rival UT Martin (4-2, 2-1 OVC) with kick-off set for 3 p.m.

Story courtesy of Sports Information

Brockman named OVC Offensive Player of the Week

October 7, 2012 Athletics, Football, Sports News

Photo courtesy of Sports Information

After throwing as many touchdowns as incompletions against Austin Peay, Murray State senior quarterback Casey Brockman was selected as the adidas Ohio Valley Conference Offensive Player of the Week, the league office announced Sunday.

Brockman (Murray, Ky.) became the Racers all-time leader in touchdown passes after going 38-for-43 for 455 yards and five touchdowns in the 52-14 victory. He completed his first 17 passes, and fell just two completions shy of tieing Butch Mosby’s record for consecutive completions. Brockman now has 55 career touchdown passes, breaking the old record of 52 held by Michael Proctor.

He got the Racers off to a quick start as he threw a 16-yard touchdown pass to Walter Powell on the opening drive, and then came back with a 38-yard scoring strike to Duane Brady on the next possession.

Brockman broke the record late in the second quarter as he found Ja-Vonta Trotter at the back pylon from 12-yards out. Brockman added an eight-yard touchdown pass to Dontel Watkins on the first play of the fourth quarter, and then connected with Powell for a 71-yard touchdown five minutes later.

The touchdown record was not the only record Brockman broke against APSU as he also became the OVC leader in career completions. He passed Morehead State’s Chris Swartz for the record, and now has 793 career completions.

Brockman enters next week’s game against UT Martin needing 238 yards to become the Racers all-time leader in passing yards. Proctor currently holds the record at 8,632 yards. Swartz is the OVC leader in passing yards at 9,028.

Story courtesy of Sports Information

Down the stretch he comes: Wild horse chases records in final season

Hometown quarterback Casey Brockman is playing his final season in a Murray State uniform. The Calloway County High School graduate threw for 3,276 yards last season, the second highest total in OVC history. The self proclaimed ‘Wild Horse” ranks 7th on the OVC all time list for completions at 577. With seven games remaining, Brockman is set to continue rewriting the OVC record books. || Kylie Townsend/ The News

When senior quarterback Casey Brockman took the field against Florida State to start the season, it marked the beginning of the end for the highly-decorated hometown hero.

A Calloway County native, Brockman was a four-year letterman under then-Head Coach Josh McKeel at Calloway County High School, garnering All-State honors in 2008 after passing for 3,417 yards and 41 touchdowns as a senior en-route to an 11-3 season and a deep run into the playoffs.

Opting for a five-minute drive covering 1.3 miles, Brockman left Calloway County High School and, in 2009, chose the college to which he’d been accustomed and watched play football his entire life.

“It’s pretty neat knowing probably 75 percent of the people in the crowd, having grown up here and watching games,” Brockman said. “That’s pretty special and pretty neat. It just means a little bit more to me just being able to play in front of people I know and my family knows. It’s kind of a dream to play in front of this crowd and a little more meaningful.”

Brockman started the final three games of the 2009 season, the last year under Head Coach Matt Griffin, winning his first official start in Blue and Gold by beating long time rival Austin Peay.

In three games, he passed for 543 yards, three touchdowns and had seemingly locked up the starting job for 2010 as he closed the season as the starting quarterback on the depth chart.

However, Griffin was fired following another losing season, and current Head Coach Chris Hatcher, who was hired in 2010 to give a quick turnaround to the Racer tradition, gave the reins to his powerful “Hatch Attack” to incumbent senior quarterback Jeff Erhardt. Through persistence and continued dedication, Brockman had to once again prove himself to a new coaching staff and a new system.

He finally got his chance to shine in one of the biggest games of the season for Racer football: Homecoming.

Only three words can describe what was witnessed on that day: what a game.

He and the Racer offense went point–for– point with the Missouri State Bears offense, and when the dust settled, Brockman had thrown for school records of 570 yards and seven touchdowns in the 72-59 victory.

The starting job hasn’t ever been in question since the self proclaimed “Wild Horse” took over.

Now Brockman faces his final gauntlet–run through the OVC schedule, and it is make or break for the Racers as they are looking to finish strong and come away with the ever elusive OVC Championship.

“Anytime you start conference play now is when it really counts,” Brockman said. “You want to get in the playoffs and make a name for yourself. We have to get down to the nitty-gritty and focus harder than we were before.”

Every college football player likes to do battle with an old nemesis, and Brockman is no different. One of his favorite players to watch and go up against is conference foe and Eastern Kentucky senior quarterback T.J. Pryor, who leads the Colonels as one of the top FCS teams in 2012.

“They have beaten us for three straight years,” Brockman said. “I generally like what they do at EKU and he’s a fun guy to watch.”

For all of the seniors, not just Brockman, this is an important season, as most of them were around when Griffin was fired in 2010. And while the pedigree and culture of winning has long been instilled during Hatcher’s tenure, expectations and hopes are as high as ever for the Racers to bring it all back home.

“One more championship would mean the world to everybody,” Brockman said. “We want to get Murray State back and relevant again in our division and on the FCS level.”

If ever there was a man suited for the job, it would be Casey Brockman.

Story by Edward Marlowe, Staff writer 

Defense leads Racers to 28-23 victory over Missouri State

Photo courtesy of Sports Information

Murray State used a fourth-quarter touchdown to take the lead and a key Brandon Wicks interception as the Racers earned a hard-fought 28-23 road victory over Missouri State Saturday evening at Plaster Field.

With the Racers leading by five and just over six minutes remaining in the game, head coach Chris Hatcher rolled the dice and called a fake punt on 4th-and-6 at his own 16-yard line. The result of the play was a nine-yard run that resulted in a first down and resulted in another two minutes being eaten off the clock.

The Racers (1-2) were forced to punt and the Bears drove down the field, but were stopped on downs in the red zone. The Bears (0-3) had one final drive with just over a minute remaining. On the third play, Wicks made a leaping interception to seal the victory.

After a first quarter that was filled with punts, the Racers used a 12-play drive for the first points of the game. Brockman and Powell connected three times for 26 yards, and Berry picked up a first down with a 13-yard run as he bounced outside. Duane Brady followed with a nine-yard run down to the three and followed it up two plays later with a three-yard touchdown run.

The Bears attempted a fake punt in their own territory, but HB Beauford made the stop a yard shy of the first-down marker to give the ball to the Racers on the Bears 29-yard line.

Brockman started the drive with a six-yard pass to Walter Powell before a short gain from Brady. Jaamal Berry picked up the first down with a tough three-yard run. MUR faced another third down and Brockman pump faked, before hitting Nevar Griffin for a 16-yard touchdown.

The Bears took advantage of a pair of defensive penalties to score on a two-yard run from Vernon Scott.

The second half started with MOST taking the opening drive 72 yards on 10 plays, with Julian Burton catching a 32-yard touchdown pass from Ashton Glaser.

The Bears took their first lead of the game as they took advantage of a fumbled punt at the four-yard line for an Austin Witmer 22-yard field goal.

The Racers got the offense going on their next possession as Walter Powell sparked the offense with a 37-yard kickoff return. Seven-straight completions from set the Racers up at the Bear 15-yard line. Jordan Morrow went up the middle for four yards, and Brockman capped the 10-play drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

The back-and-forth affair continued on the next drive as the Bears used a 67-yard completion to set up Glaser’s six-yard TD run up the middle. Josh Manning kept the deficit at two as he came around the end and blocked the extra point.

The Racers had one last answer as Brockman found Griffin for 33 yards to get down to the Bears 28. On 3rd-and 9 at the 15-yard line, Brockman found Berry in the flat and he did the rest as he outran the defense and dove for the pylon for the 15-yard game-winning touchdown.

MUR finished the game by running 99 plays and gaining 399 yards of offense. Brockman finished by going 41-for-59 for 313 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Powell was his main target as he caught a career-best 12 passes for 90 yards. Berry finished the game with 44 yards receiving on five catches, and eight carries for 41 yards.

Wicks led the Racer defense with 10 tackles and the key interception. Huzzie added eight tackles and a sack.

The Racers return to action next weekend as they travel to Eastern Illinois to open Ohio Valley Conference action. Kickoff is set for 6:30 p.m. and can be seen live on the Racer TV

Story courtesy of Sports Information

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