Senior Day couldn’t have been much sweeter for the Eastern Kentucky University football team as the Colonels dominated the final 40 minutes of action in a 55-24 victory over Murray State Saturday at Roy Kidd Stadium.
The No. 18 Colonels conclude the regular season 8-3 overall and 6-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference.
However, Eastern Illinois’ victory over Southeast Missouri eliminated the Colonels from OVC title contention. EKU will have to wait until next Sunday to learn if it will make a 21st appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs. ESPNU will air the playoff selection show on Sunday, Nov. 18 at 1:30 p.m.
The Colonels scored touchdowns on their first five possessions, and 10 of 13 possessions overall. The Racers (4-6, 3-4 OVC) put points on the board on their first four touches, but were held scoreless the rest of the game.
Early in the second quarter, Murray State took a 24-20 lead on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Casey Brockman to Walter Powell. However, EKU answered. On 3rd-and-11 at the EKU 24, senior Tyrone Goard made a one-handed catch over the middle, with a number of defenders converging, for 43 yards. On the ensuing play, fellow senior Matt Denham tied the school record for touchdowns in a game when he scored his fourth, racing in from 33 yards out.
After the Eastern defense stopped the Racers for the first time, the offense began to pull away. A trick play extended the Colonel lead to 34-24. On 3rd-and-10 at the Murray State 22, junior Deshaun Sands took the hand-off, ran to the right and then lofted a perfect pass to Goard in the right corner of the end zone for the score.
The Colonel defense kept the Racers off the board the rest of the way. Eastern forced a fumble on MSU’s first possession of the second half. Murray State punted on its second touch in the third quarter. After EKU went on top 48-24, the Racers were stopped on downs inside the Eastern Kentucky five-yard line.
Murray State entered the contest averaging more than 52 points per game against OVC opponents. Thanks to forcing two turnovers and recording six sacks, Eastern Kentucky held the Racers to their lowest point total since a week two loss at Central Arkansas. Senior linebacker Kevin Hamlin notched seven tackles, one sack and one interception.
Eastern Kentucky racked up season highs in total offense (666) and rushing yards (372). The Colonels converted 14-of-16 (87.5 percent) third-down attempts and held the ball for 38:29.
Denham reached 200 yards rushing for the sixth time in his career (214). He ran for three touchdowns and caught a scoring pass. Quarterback T.J. Pryor completed 14-of-20 passes for 230 yards while throwing for one touchdown and rushing for another. Meanwhile, Goard caught seven passes for 152 yards to go along with his touchdown.
Murray State quarterback Casey Brockman finished 34-for-47 for 343 yards, three touchdown and one interception. He completed his first 11 pass attempts. Powell caught eight passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns.