A late touchdown by LaMartez Brooks and a Davontae McKee interception with just over a minute to play helped lift the Murray State football team past Tennessee Tech, 36-31, Sunday at Tucker Stadium in Cookeville, Tennessee. The Racers are off to their first 3-0 start since 1998, and earned a No. 25 ranking in this week’s FCS Poll.
The Racer defense was at it again on Sunday, forcing four turnovers on the afternoon. In addition to McKee’s interception, the Racers also got a forced fumble from Jarad McCray that was recovered by Eric Samuta. Samuta got the defense going in the first when he came up with the first of two pick-sixes of the day in the first quarter and went 75 yards for the touchdown. In the third quarter, Quinaz Turner came up with his own interception return going 82 yards for a score.
After a 55-yard field goal by Aaron Baum and Turner’s interception return, the Racers led 30-10 with 4:30 to play in the third quarter. However, the Golden Eagles reeled off 21 unanswered points, capped by a 39-yard punt return from Jyron Gilmore to give Tennessee Tech its first lead of the game at 31-30 with 5:03 left in the fourth.
The Racers, however, responded with a five-play, 65-yard drive that ended with an 11-yard pass from Preston Rice to LaMartez Brooks to put the Racers back on top, 36-31, with 2:36 to go in regulation.
On the ensuing TTU possession, McKee halted any chance of a Tennessee Tech comeback when he picked off Golden Eagle quarterback Willie Miller with just over a minute left in the game. After two timeouts by TTU, Damonta Witherspoon sealed the game for MSU with an 8-yard run for a first down.
Rice finished the game 17-for-26 for 177 yards and a touchdown, while Witherspoon finished with 39 yards and two touchdowns. Brooks caught 10 passes for 115 yards and a touchdown. Defensively, Alec Long and Jarad McCray led the Racers with 12 and 10 tackles, respectively. Samuta finished the game with seven tackles, an interception and 1.5 tackles-for-loss, while Marvin Pierre had six tackles, a sack, two quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
On Sunday, Murray State returns to Roy Stewart Stadium for the first of two consecutive games, taking on Tennessee State at 2 p.m.
Racers ranked for first time since 2011For the first time in 10 years, the Murray State football team is part of the STATS PERFORM FCS Top 25 poll. The Racers came in at 25th in this week’s edition of the poll with 90 votes, beating out Monmouth for the final spot in the rankings. The ranking marks the first time Murray State has appeared in the poll since September of 2011, when it was 24th, and just the second time since the final poll of the 2002 season.