Nashville, Tenn. - In a defensive battle on a brisk Saturday night, the Tennessee State University Tigers fell short to Murray State, 9-6, in OVC play at LP Field. TSU suffers their first conference loss of the season, moving to 3-4 overall and 2-1 in the OVC.
Among the teams eligible for the championship, the Tigers are now tied for first place in the conference with Eastern Kentucky and Eastern Illinois after holding sole possession of the top spot in the OVC standings.
The Racers pick-up their first OVC win of the year, going 1-2 in the conference, while posting a 2-4 overall record. The last time Murray State picked up a win at LP Field was 2004.
Starting quarterback Calvin McNairl went down on the fifth play after completing both passes for 29 yards in the first quarter and would not return until late in the game.
With McNairl down, the Tigers' attack posted 76 yards of offense before the break before finishing with 237 yards for the game. Murray State finished with 235 yards going 3-of-3 in the red-zone.
McNairl finished with 6-of-13 passing and one interception for 62 yards. He also rushed for 56 yards on nine carries for a 5.7 average. Rico Council led all defenders with 11 tackles (4 solo, 7 assists) and Miguel Hall tallied two sacks to go along with four solo tackles.
Reserve quarterback Jeremy Perry stepped in passing for 2-of-6 for six yards and one interception. Perry also rushed six times for 30 yards. The Tigers finished with 169 yards rushing with Preston Brown knotting 15 carries for 57 yards for a 3.5 average.
Three Racers finished with game highs. Running back Charlie Jordan rushed for 97 yards on 29 carries, wide receiver Rashad Daniels pulled in five receptions for 40 yards and quarterback Nico Yantko threw 13-of-25 for 110 yards.
Defensively, MSU was led by Taylor Lanigan and Erik Fennell, posting eight tackles apiece. Defensive end Austen Lane registered 1.5 sacks including 3.5 tackles for losses for 14 yards.
With 43 seconds left in the third, McNairl returned to the game with the Tigers trailing, 9-0, from three Racer field goals. MSU kicker Kienan Cullen went three-for-three, nailing field goals from 36 and 24 yards out in the first half, and a 40-yard field goal with 2:29 left in the game.
With 28 seconds left and facing their first shut out since 2005, McNairl found Joseph Hills in the end-zone from 10 yards out to narrow the score. The score capped a nine play, 62-yard drive, taking almost two minutes off the clock.
Freshman kicker Robert Vipond missed the point after attempt and TSU trailed, 9-6. TSU's ensuing onside kick was recovered by Murray State to seal the game.
The Tigers will move into their off week before heading to Cookeville, Tenn. to face Tennessee Tech in OVC action. The match-up is scheduled for October 31st with a 1:30 p.m. kick-off.