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Football opens spring play

May 1, 2015 Athletics, Football

Story by Mallory Tucker, Staff writer

Kalli Bubb/The News Senior kicker Carson Greifenkamp demonstrates kicking during their spring game April 24.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Senior kicker Carson Greifenkamp demonstrates kicking during their spring game April 24.

The football team wrapped up spring practice April 24 with a scrimmage and the first “Fastest Friday in Kentucky,” a day filled with activities and competitions for fans including Minute to Win It games, flag football and multiple giveaways.

On the field, the team alternated quarterbacks as it ran plays with breaks filled by Greek organizations competing in flag football. Redshirt sophomore quarterback KD Humphries calls the completion of the spring season bittersweet.

“Finishing up spring ball, you know, it’s a bittersweet moment,” Humphries said. “Knowing that Saturday was the last day we get to put the pads on and compete against each other for a long time. Going through the whole summer and not having to put on pads again or be on the field with our brothers until the end of July, early August.” … Continue Reading

Coach finalizes football staff for 2015

March 5, 2015 Athletics, Football

Head Coach Mitch Stewart has completed his staff for the 2015 season of Racer football according to GoRacers.com.

Among the staff additions are Brandon Cooper who will serve as the linebackers and special teams coach and Eddie Hicks as the cornerbacks coach. Returning to the team will be Sean Dawkins at running backs.

Mitch Stewart

Mitch Stewart

Before entering the Racers team on the defensive staff, Cooper gained seven years experience on the collegiate level. Previously Cooper has worked on staff with University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Jacksonville State and UT Martin.

Another new addition, Hicks begins his first season at Murray State from the University of California at Berkeley. Prior to that he a part of the California Hicks where he served on the defensive team for the University of Cincinnati. The breakthrough in his career began with Alcorn State in 2012.

Finally, returning to the staff is Dawkins who spent a season at Chattanooga after spending four seasons with the racers. He came to Murray State in 2009 after spending his previous season at Huntingdon College which was his predecessor to West Texas A&M.


February 6, 2015 Athletics, Football



Jenny Rohl/The News Head Coach Mitch Stewart embraces his wife at a signing day meet-and-greet Feb. 4 at the Racer Room in Roy Stewart Stadium.

Jenny Rohl/The News
Head Coach Mitch Stewart embraces his wife at a signing day meet-and-greet Feb. 4 at the Racer Room in Roy Stewart Stadium.

Nickel 6’2” 215 lbs. from Paducah, Ky.


O-Line 6’6” 310 lbs. from Pensacola, Fla.


Linebacker 6’2” 235 lbs. from Lexington, Ky.


Quarterback 6’3” 205 lbs. from Opelika, Ala.


Safety 5’11” 180 lbs. from Lexington, Ky.


Long snapper 6’3” 230 lbs. from Franklin, Tenn.


WR 6’2” 200 lbs. from Bowling Green, Ky.


DE 6’3” 240 lbs. from Clearwater, Kan.


O-Line 6’5” 280 lbs. from Springfield, Mo.


DE 6’2” 250 lbs. from Elba, Ala.


P/K 6’3” 190 lbs. from Muscle Shoals, Ala.


O-Line 6’2” 286 lbs. from Germantown, Tenn.


Quarterback 6’4” 215 lbs. from Maysville, Ky.


Safety 6’0” 200 lbs. from Brookeville, Kan.


DE 6’4” 240 lbs. from New Market, Ala.


Quarterback 6’6” 250 lbs. from Edgewood, Ky.


WR 6’1” 186 lbs. from Gadsden, Ala.


Tight end 6’5” 215 lbs. from Memphis, Tenn.


Corner 5’11” 170 lbs. from Macon, Ga.


O-Line 6’4” 295 lbs. from Lithonia, Ga.


DE 6’2” 260 lbs. from Chicago, Ill.


DE 6’5” 230 lbs. from Benton, Ky.


Linebacker 6’3” 215 lbs. from Indianapolis, Ind.


DE 6’0” 245 lbs. from Princeton, Ky.


O-Line 6’3” 310 lbs. from Daphne, Ala.

Hatcher to leave football program, replaced by Stewart

Kalli Bubb/The News Head Coach Chris Hatcher talks to his team during practice Monday at Roy Stewart Stadium.

After five seasons with Racer Football, Head Coach Chris Hatcher is leaving the program but will be replaced by Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach Mitch Stewart.

Hatcher will be officially introduced as new head coach of Samford University at 11 a.m. Friday during a press conference, approximately one week after Samford head coach Pat Sullivan resigned due to his health.

The position has been offered to and accepted by Hatcher.

Samford President Andrew Westmoreland said Hatcher is a perfect fit for the University and football program, according to an interview with Samford’s official athletics website.

“Coach Hatcher possesses the characteristics necessary for success as the leader of our football program,” he said.  “Underlying his strengths as a great motivator and tactician, he is a person of unshakable character.  Fundamentally, he sees himself as a teacher.  He is an ideal fit for Samford.”

Hatcher told samfordsports.com that he is looking forward to following Sullivan’s footsteps and said that he can’t wait to get started.

“It is a true honor to follow Coach Sullivan and have the opportunity to lead the Samford football program into its next chapter,” Hatcher said. “Put simply, Coach Sullivan is a legend.  They say you never want to be ‘the man that follows the man.’  Well I do.”

Murray State Athletics announced as of Wednesday that Hatcher will be replaced by Stewart, who has received high praise from President Bob Davies.

“Over the past six months, I have had the opportunity to meet, talk and observe the work of Coach Stewart,” Davies said in an interview with Goracers.com.  “My initial impressions were that he is an impressive, young coach who I hope we will be able to hang onto.”

Stewart has worked with the Racers for five years, coached two All-Americans and his offense ranked 15th in the nation with 5,625 yards of total offense and 439 points, according to Goracers.com. Hatcher and Stewart have worked together previously at Georgia Southern and have both been quarterbacks at Valdosta State.

Report of Hatcher’s move to Samford first surfaced on footballscoop.com and was confirmed by FOX-6 in Alabama.

Hatcher was hired by Murray State in 2010 and has a record with the Racers of 27-30. The Racers tied for last place with Austin Peay State in the Ohio Valley Conference this year with a record in OVC of 1-7.

Samford is located in Birmingham, Ala.

Story by Mary Bradley, Editor-in-Chief

Intramural flag football finals: Springer-Franklin A wins

December 5, 2014 Athletics, Intramurals
Haley Hays/The News Hart Ravens’ player Amber Timmerman runs the ball against Springer-Franklin A Tuesday night.

Haley Hays/The News
Hart Ravens’ player Amber Timmerman runs the ball against Springer-Franklin A Tuesday night.

Fans and players alike covered the intramural fields Tuesday night as Hart College took on Franklin in the women’s intramural  flag football championship game.

Hart Ravens lost to Springer-Franklin A 31-6, a score that was not indicative of the battle on the field.

Hart had just come off the field after defeating Granny Panties and hoped to do the same against Franklin.

Franklin was fresh off the field as well after just facing the Monstars in a heated double overtime game.

The fans were just as excited as the players. Freshman Christopher Cash, Hart resident from Memphis, Tenn., stood out among many. Cash played the role of both cheerleader and ball boy Tuesday night, yelling, cheering and doing toe-touches on the sidelines.

“They are not ready for us!” Cash said. “Turn on the jets! Go Hart!”

This was just one of the many colorful phrases yelled during the game.Screen shot 2014-12-04 at 12.52.12 PM

Jonathon Rogers, Hart Ravens assistant athletic director, was excited to see the women play also.

“I come to all the games and practices. I’m just here to support my Hart family,” Rogers said.

Hart held Springer-Franklin A for most of the first half. Springer-Franklin A athletic director Rya Smelosky, sophomore from Louisville, Ky., scored with two minutes left.

During halftime Hart’s athletic director Tori Twidwell gave her players a speech.

“Play your game, the game you all know how to play,” Twidwell said. “There is only so much coaching we can do from the sidelines.”

Franklin carried their first-half momentum as they returned to the field.

Smelosky ended the night by gathering the women to take a picture in their matching championship T-shirts.

Story by Da’Sha Tuck, Contributing writer

Rugby provides sport alternative

November 21, 2014 Athletics
Fumi Nakamura/The News Rugby player Travis Nelson competes against alumni last season.

Fumi Nakamura/The News
Rugby player Travis Nelson competes against alumni last season.

The Murray State Rugby Football Club provides an alternative for athletes to satisfy their need for competition in place of college athletics.

Rugby football, referred to simply as rugby is a sport with a long history. It was allegedly invented in 1823 by Englishman William Webb Ellis who found the rules of soccer too restricting. Legend has it Ellis picked up the ball during a soccer match and ran with it, forcing the opposing team to tackle him.

Though this story is most likely fictitious, it is widely accepted, as the International Rugby Board, as named the World Cup trophy the William Webb Ellis Cup.

It took 51 years for rugby to cross the Atlantic Ocean.

American ingenuity quickly took hold, and rugby gave birth to American football. Rugby is still played by many in the U.S. and Murray State’s Rugby Football Club continues that tradition by providing students on campus with an alternative form of football or soccer.

Rugby and American football are known to many as the most dangerous and physically demanding sports.

For Connor Dec, junior from Chicago, these qualities are what attracted him to rugby. Dec came from a high school sports career that included American football and wrestling. Though his focus in college became the pursuit of his exercise science degree, he needed to find a way to fulfill his competitive spirit.

“I wanted to compete in something when I came to Murray,” Dec said. “My preference was obviously a contact sport and rugby fit perfectly. I knew a few guys who played and I asked if they were still taking people for the team. Turns out they are always looking to get more people involved.”

The team hosts an alumni match once a year, where alumni can face off against the current crop of players. This match attracts alumni who attended Murray State as far back as the 1970s. 

The Rugby Football Club has found alternative ways to make their presence known on campus.

Its most coveted tradition is the rugby dress match, where another Kentucky team is invited  to Murray to raise money and play a full contact rugby match of 80 minutes in dresses without pads or helmets.

Caleb Nelson, senior from Niceville, Fla., said he was lucky enough to attend a high school that had its own established rugby club. He said rugby has had a positive influence on his life, whether it be physical fitness or life lessons.

“In a very simplistic way, it has taught me to pick myself up after every fall,” Nelson said. “It helped me realize you can always pick yourself up and bounce back. More importantly, it taught me a great deal about friendship. It taught me the opposing team isn’t always the enemy. One of my favorite things about rugby is the camaraderie between teams.”

Nelson said he became attached to the sport in high school and that if students are willing to get past the stereotype of rugby being an overly dangerous sport, the same will happen to them.

“I would argue that rugby is actually the safer contact sport you can play,” Nelson said. “The rules of rugby prevent head on head collisions and there are serious penalties for dangerous tackles and unsafe play. We don’t wear pads and there is danger, but the referees are there to make sure everyone plays it safe. Rugby is challenging, not crazy.”

Story by Alex McLaughlin, Staff writer

Racers fall near end of season

November 21, 2014 Athletics, Football
Kalli Bubb/The News Junior wide receiver Jeremy Harness runs the ball against UT Martin Nov. 1.

Kalli Bubb/The News
Junior wide receiver Jeremy Harness runs the ball against UT Martin Nov. 1.

Despite a strong showing on both the offensive and defensive fronts, the timing wasn’t there for the football team as it fell 43-36 to Eastern Kentucky Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium in Richmond, Ky.

The team started well offensively as junior runningback Pokey Harris returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, the second straight week he racked up a full 100-yard kickoff return. Harris is the third player in conference history with two 100-yard kickoff returns, the second player to have two in the same season and the only player to complete the feat in back-to-back games.

“Pokey’s done a good job,” said Head Coach Chris Hatcher. “But all in all, I think all of our special teams. … Pokey’s just had two really good returns in back-to-back games. Once he gets an open field, he’s very fast. Fastest guy on our team. I’m real pleased with his performance, but those other guys have really taken a lot of pride in trying to spring him loose.”

The Colonels returned the favor with just over five minutes left in the first quarter as they added a two-yard rushing touchdown to the board. Junior kicker Carson Greifenkamp hit a 25-yard field goal to put the Racers back on top before the start of the second quarter.

The Racers continued to add to the score and ended the first half with a 20-point lead.

Still, Hatcher believed his team didn’t fully capitalize on a fourth-down conversion and opportunities that could have given his team a 35-point lead.

A successful first half couldn’t counteract fatal mistakes in the last minutes of the game, however, as redshirt sophomore quarterback K.D. Humphries threw an interception.

“You’ve got a redshirt sophomore quarterback back there that’s been playing really well,” Hatcher said. “He just made a bad throw at the end of the game. He threw a bunch of good ones, and then makes a bad throw at the end of the game.”

Looking ahead to Saturday’s home game against Tennessee State, Hatcher anticipates a physical mismatch.

“Athletically, I would put them at the top of the league, year in and year out, since I’ve been here,” Hatcher said. “It’s going to be a tough game. I mean, it always is. We’re beat up; I’m sure they’re beat up.”

Tennessee State (5-6) is coming off a bye week after beating Austin Peay State 31-27 Nov. 8. Hatcher expects to see lots of size on the line for the Tigers and physical players on both sides of the ball. He said their offense will work to pound the ball and run play action passes past the Racers, which he hopes to limit by staying strong in the trenches. Offensively, they’ll be working to keep the ball on the perimeter.

The last game of the season will be no different than any others as the team pulls out all the stops.

“I think we’ll play well this week,” Hatcher said. “I thought we would play well last week, and we did. It wasn’t good enough to win, but we played probably the best we’d played in a while.”

Story by Mallory Tucker, Sports Editor

Football stopped at EIU

November 14, 2014 Athletics, Football
Kalli Bubb/The News The Racers line up to take on the UT Martin Skyhawks Nov. 1 at Roy Stewart Stadium.

Kalli Bubb/The News
The Racers line up to take on the UT Martin Skyhawks Nov. 1 at Roy Stewart Stadium.

Head Coach Chris Hatcher said his team was plagued by problems Saturday as it fell 48-26 to the Eastern Illinois Panthers in Charleston, Ill.

“Plagued by an inability to hang onto the football,” Hatcher said. “Plagued by a couple costly penalties. And plagued by our inability to stop the run.”

The Panthers came out on top from the start as they took an early three-touchdown lead. On the opening drive, Eastern Illinois moved the ball 75 yards downfield in less than two and a half minutes.

Things looked hopeful for the Racers as they took over on offense and carried the ball to the three-yard line before a fumble that was recovered by Eastern Illinois. The Panthers moved the ball 97 yards to score again on their second possession of the game.

Hatcher attributes much of the loss to inconsistency.

“We got the ball coming out of the gates and really couldn’t do anything with it,” Hatcher said. “We were very inconsistent on offense. We had a bunch of yards, we moved the ball well, we didn’t finish drives, we had three costly turnovers, especially on the first drive of the game, but we did get a few stops. We didn’t take advantage of the stops when we got them.”

Now that the Racers are done with the 5-1 OVC Panthers, the team is focused on a similarly difficult opponent on the road.

“It wasn’t like we went up there and got stomped by a bad football team, we got stomped by one of the best in the league,” Hatcher said. “We got beat by a good team. We didn’t play well. When you combine those things, makes for a long day. This week, we look forward to seeing much of the same from your opponent in attacking style, defense that’s going to try to put pressure on us.”

The Racers kick off against Eastern Kentucky at 1 p.m. EST Saturday in Richmond, Ky., for their last away game of the season.

The Racers defeated the Colonels last season at home for the first time since 2004. The 2004 season is also the last time Murray State beat Eastern Illinois on the road.

Despite two consecutive losses, Hatcher said the team hasn’t given up.

“Right now with our football team, they’re in really good spirits,” Hatcher said. “They continue to play hard, they continue to do everything that we ask them to do. But with us not being able to stop the run, it puts a lot of pressure on that offense, because you have to play perfect on that side of the ball to give us a chance to win. So we’re getting back to the drawing board this week.”

University of Cincinnati transfer quarterback Bennie Coney has led Eastern Kentucky to success thus far this season. The Colonels are ranked 15th in the nation with an 8-2 overall record and a 5-2 conference record, with losses to Tennessee Tech and No. 4 Jacksonville State.

According to Hatcher, the Racers will return a few injured defensive players Saturday in hopes of making the necessary stops.

Junior defensive tackle Demetrius Mason, freshman defensive lineman Bishop Woods and senior defensive linebacker Perry Cooper’s injuries all looked optimistic as of Monday.

Story by Mallory TuckerSports Editor

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