By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
MURRAY, Ky. – The Tennessee Tech football team was able climb back to within five points of the Murray State Racers on Saturday, but the Golden Eagles weren't able to close out the rally in the waning moments of the contest, the Racers taking a 32-27 victory over Tech.
The Golden Eagles (3-6, 1-3 Ohio Valley Conference) will return home next Saturday for their home finale, Homecoming and Senior Day, hosting UT Martin. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
While Tech was able to keep the game close in the first quarter, trailing 10-7 after the opening stanza, Murray State surged for 17 unanswered points before the half concluded. Two of the Golden Eagles' three second-quarter drives ended in interceptions, shutting down Tech's offensive chances.
The Golden Eagles started to turn the tide in the second half, holding the Racers to just five total points – a 21-yard field goal for Aaron Baum, followed by two points on Marcis Floyd's interception on a Tech two-point conversion try as Floyd returned it all the way back to the other end zone.
That wasn't all for Floyd – he had two interceptions as well, returning one 90 yards for a touchdown, then had 27 yards on another pick. He also recorded seven total tackles. Lawaun Powell also recovered a fumble for 15 yards.
Murray State scored first, ending an 11-play, 46-yard drive with a Baum 47-yard field goal. Following a brief series, the Racers extended the lead with a three-yard touchdown run for Damonta Witherspoon. The PAT gave MSU a 10-0 lead.
Tech closed the first quarter with points as David Gist scored the first of his two touchdowns on the day, pushing in from six yards out to cap off an 11-play, 72-yard drive. Hayden Olsen's PAT brought Tech back within three, 10-7, as the first quarter ticked to an end.
The Racers ate a lot of time off the close on their first drive, taking up 6:44 to march down the field on a 14-play, 79-yard drive, ending as quarterback D.J. Williams called his own number and crossed the end zone for a six-yard rushing touchdown.
Tech marched down the field itself on the next drive, getting all the way to the Racer 34 before Floyd picked off Willie Miller at the Murray 10 yard line. Floyd outpaced the Tech defenders and brought it back for six points.
Murray ended the half with another score as Baum connected on a 46-yard field goal as time expired.
Then the Golden Eagles started roaring back, holding Murray to 94 yards of total offense and collecting 216 yard of its own in the second half. Tech scored the lone touchdown of the third quarter as it had its own clock-eating drive, scoring on Jordan Brown's first touchdown, a three-yard run to end the 6:35 series.
As the fourth quarter opened, Baum hit a 21-yard field goal to make it a 30-14 game. Tech quickly moved down the field, piling on 75 yards to score on Brown's two-yard rush. Davis Shanley's two-point try was intercepted by Floyd, giving the Racers two points and making it a 12-point, 32-20 Racer lead with 6:45 remaining.
Tech got one more touchdown to end a 1:32 drive, going up 73 yards on nine plays, as Gist collected his second touchdown of the day a two-yard rush. The Golden Eagles attempted an onside kick, but the ball went out of bounds after 19 yards, giving the ball to Murray State, allowing the Racers to go into victory formation.
Gist saw his four-game 100-yard rushing streak come to an end, collecting 62 of Tech's 140 rushing yards om 15 carries, while Miller rushed for 41, Shanley 20 and Brown 15.
Shanley led Tech's passing attack with 111 yards on 8-of-15 passing, filling in for Miller after going 7-for-12 with 97 yards and two interceptions. Lem Wash also completed three of four passes for 21 yards.
Witherspoon ran 19 times for 87 yards to lead the Racers, while Williams had 83 yards on 12 carries. Williams also threw for 137 yards on 12-of-19 passing. LaMartez Brooks caught four passes for 79 yards. Eric Samuta led Murray with 11 tackles and a forced fumble.
Photo | Dave Winder, Murray State Athletics