The Racers and Skyhawks battled at a windy Graham Stadium, it was the Skyhawks offense carrying them to their third straight win over Murray State with to the 45-17 victory.
With quarterback Jarod Neal playing for the majority of the game, the Skyhawks balanced attack put up 522 yards on the Racers terrible defense. It was D.J. McNeil rushing for 111 yards and two touchdowns while wide receiver Jeremy Butler caught nine passes for 133 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Skyhawks defense stiffed the Racers passing game holding starting quarterback Maikhail Miller to just 96 yards passing before being replaced. Thad Williams led the Skyhawk defense intercepting two Racers passes.
Speaking of Miller, the Racers seemed to pull him just too late in the game. After a first half that saw the Racers use the ground game after his first interception, the halftime adjustment was to pass the ball. This worked until Miller tossed his second interception of the game and was benched. The Racers only bright spot on the day was running back Jaamal Berry who ran for 134 yards on 21 carries and a touchdown.
With Neal getting the start, the opening drive would end at midfield with Neal punting the ball backwards for a loss of three yards. With excellent field position, Racers quarterback Miler would be intercepted by UTM corner Cam Harris ending the Racers promising drive. After trading punts, Favre would enter the game in the shadow of his own end zone. A option would go wrong and linebacker T-Ray Malone would jump on it, in the end zone for the game’s first points. The Skyhawks looked like they would answer after Butler caught a ball at the Racers 12 but referees overturned the call saying Butler’s right foot landed out of bounds. The Racers would go exclusively on the ground for their second score of the contest and Miller and Berry would alternate carries with Berry going 26 yards for the touchdown to give the Racers the 14-0 lead.
The Skyhawks would get on the scoreboard in the second quarter as McNeil capped off an eight play, 74 yard drive with a five yard score making it 14-7. After a punt that was caught by the wind, the Skyhawks would strike to tie the game. After a 20 yard completion to Chris Thompson, Neal would find Butler for a 21 yard touchdown to tie the game at 14. The Skyhawks would keep the momentum and march down the field again but Murray State would hold the Skyhawks just a 33-yard field goal by Jackson Redditt. With halftime looming, the Racers would drive the field on the shoulders of Berry to set up a 24 yard field goal by Jordan Benton that had the game tied at 17 at the half.
The Racers came out of the locker room’s looking to gain their 31 yards of passing from the first half. It was Miller find Walter Powell twice in the Racers first drive but the offense would stall in the red zone and Benton’s 36 yard field goal was short due to the wind. After a three and out by the Racers, UT Martin would muff a punt giving the Racers a second chance on the drive. After a personal foul gave the Racers a first down in UTM territory, Miller’s indecisiveness would lead to his second interception of the day, this time picked off by Williams. The Skyhawks would take advantage of the turnover as Neal would pass his way down the field getting UTM into the red zone. Facing a fourth down inches from the end zone, Neal would do his own Matthew Stafford interpretation and put the Skyhawks on top. The Skyhawk lead would grow to 14 as McNeil would score his second touchdown of the day after a poor Racers punt.
Murray State would make a quarterback change, going with backup Parks Frazier late in the third quarter.
With the game in hand, the Skyhawks would use a 12 play, 99 yard drive to deliver the knockout punch. The drive was capped off with Neal tossing his second touchdown of the game, this time to Chris Thompson from 11 yard out. With Frazier in at quarterback, it was Williams coming up with his second interception of the game midway through the fourth quarter. It would lead to Neal finding Butler again to make it 44-17.
The Skyhawks take a break from conference play next week going to Memphis while the Racers return home to face Eastern Illinois.