For the second straight year, Murray State’s home opener isn’t a 60 minute contest. The score was so large, and lopsided, heading into the fourth quarter, both teams agreed to shorten the quarter — to six minutes. It was a “special night” for the Racers, as Murray State got punt return touchdowns from Shawn Samuels-Connell and Janawski Davis in the first half as the Racers rolled to a 73-26 season-opening victory over Union Thursday evening at The Track.
While the ‘Hatch Attack’ was on point, the defense was anything but. Union, a sub-500 NAIA school last season, put together two long touchdown drives in the first half, against the Racers first team defense. Union was the only NAIA opponent of an OVC team tonight to score in the first half.
On offense, the Racers wasted little time in getting on the scoreboard as Davis caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from CJ Bennett on just the third play on offense. The connection was the first three for the duo on the day. They also connected on a 28-yard touchdown in the second quarter and an 11-yard score in the third.
On the second possession, Samuels-Connell made the most of his first touch as a Racer. The junior fielded the ball and went right, before cutting back across the field and racing down the left sideline for the 68-yard score.
Bennett helped cap a 28-point first quarter by connecting on touchdown passes of three and 24 yards with Jeremy Harness. Harness finished the day with four catches for 43 yards and two scores.
Davis was not to be outdone by Samuels-Connell as he started the second quarter with a 62-yard return for a touchdown. He ended his day with four catches for 60 yards and three touchdowns, while returning two punts for 75 yards and a TD.
Carson Greifenkamp added to the lead in the second quarter by hitting on a 41-yard field goal on his first collegiate field-goal attempt.
The Racers defense got into the scoring act in the third quarter. After giving up a touchdown, Demetrius Mason blocked the extra point. Jonathan Jackson scooped up the ball and raced 98 yards for the two-point defensive conversion.
True freshman Nick Taylor closed out the scoring for the Racers as he raced 12 yards up the middle for his first career touchdown.
The Racers finished the game with 535 yards of total offense. Taylor led four Racer running backs with 82 yards on 11 carries. Marcus Holliday carried the ball 12 times for 76 yards, Pokey Harris added 67 yards and a score on eight carries and Roman Clay carried the ball six times for 53 yards.
The Racers return to action next Saturday as they travel to face Louisville. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium and can be seen live on ESPN3.