MURRAY, KY. - 29 unanswered points to end the game by Murray State proved to be the difference as the Racers defeated Tennessee State 49-28 Saturday afternoon at Roy Stewart Stadium.
With TSU (8-2, 4-2 OVC) leading 28-20 late in the third quarter, the Racers (4-5, 3-3 OVC) scored on three straight possessions over the next five minutes, 54 seconds.
The Racers first possession of the game resulted in an interception as receiver Josh Brown was picked off by Ronn Vinson in the end zone from six yards out.
The Tigers took advantage driving 80 yards in 12 plays, ending with a two-yard touchdown run by Trabis Ward for the 7-0 lead with 6:57 left in the first quarter.
Ward had 37 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown. He has run for over 110 yards in eight of the 10 games this season.
MSU spent little time answering as quarterback Casey Brockman connected with Walter Powell for a 13-yard score to tie the game at seven less than a minute later.
Powell led all receivers with eight catches for 117 yards and a touchdown. It's only the second time all season that Powell has been held under nine catches and the first time in the last five games that he has not had 142 yards or more.
TSU would go three-and-out on offense to give the ball right back to the Racers, who drove inside the TSU 15 and settled for a 25-yard field goal from Jordan Benton to take the lead for the first time, 10-7.
Another TSU three-and-out gave Murray State a chance to extend its lead, but a pass breakup by Bernell Brooks turned the Racers over on downs on a fourth-and-6 at the TSU 32.
The ensuing Tennessee State drive took up nine minutes, 33 seconds of the second quarter, resulting in a six-yard touchdown pass from Michael German to Weldon Garlington in the back, right corner of the end zone on third-and-goal. TSU converted three third downs on the 18 play drive. Ward converted each third down and ran the ball 10 times on the drive. German kept the drive going with a quarterback sneak on a fourth-and-one at the MSU 14. On the next play, German rushed for 12 yards down to the MSU two yard line.
Murray State came back with another quick scoring drive as Jaamal Berry ran for a 35-yard touchdown on a third-and-three to give the lead back to MSU 17-14 at the half.
The Racers would get a 36-yard field goal from Benton on the opening drive of the second half to increase its lead to six.
The Tigers would return the favor with a one-yard QB sneak from German to give TSU the 21-20 edge with 9:58 remaining in the third quarter. A Garlilngton 66-yard kickoff return down to the MSU 28 gave the Tigers a short field.
The TSU defense forced its first three-and-out of the game as Daniel Fitzpatrick sacked Brockman for a loss of seven on third-and-six to force the second Racer punt of the game. Fitzpatrick recorded a game-high 10 tackles.
The punt by Steven Mix was misplayed by Garlington forcing the Tigers to start the drive inside its own one-yard line.
After a pair of Ward rushes for no gain, German rolled to his left on third down and found A.C. Leonard near the sideline for a 52-yard gain. Six plays later, German threw his second TD of the contest, a 21-yard strike in the middle of the field to Joe Bowens to put TSU up 28-20 with 3:44 left in the third.
Leonard set a career-high in yards for the second week in a row as he had seven receptions for 115 yards. The sophomore tight end had 102 yards last week vs. Tennessee Tech.
The Racer offense would score on its next two possessions to retake the lead 35-28. Berry had his second TD of the day from five yards out with 27 seconds on the third quarter clock. Brockman started the fourth with a one-yard TD run within the first minute.
Brockman finished 27-of-38 for 271 yards with two touchdowns through the air and one on the ground. He is now the all-time Murray State and OVC leader in total offense with 9,962 yards.
The Tennessee State offense was on the move when a German pass was dropped by Devin Wilson and intercepted by Julian Whitehead at the Racers 33. A 47-yard run by Berry gave MSU the ball at the TSU 5. Ja-Von Trotter caught a Brockman pass on the next play to give the Racers the 42-28 advantage with 9:33 remaining.
The final MSU points came on another Berry run, this one from one yard out with 3:05 on the clock. The junior transfer from Ohio State had 163 yards on 16 carries and three touchdowns.
TSU has a bye next week before finishing the regular season at UT-Martin (7-2, 5-1 OVC) on Nov. 17 at 2 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Trabis Ward moved past Javarris Williams (2006) for the third most rushing yards in a season for a TSU running back. His 37 carries is the second most in his career and the third time this season he has had 34 or more carries. He leads the FCS with 285 carries on the season ... The nine minute, 30 second scoring drive by TSU in the second quarter is the longest since a 9:33 drive at Southeast Missouri State on Oct. 25, 2008. The 99-yard drive in the third quarter is also the longest for TSU since the same 9:33 drive at SEMO ... TSU had the ball for 40 minutes, 25 seconds ... The Tigers had 411 yards on 86 plays. The last time that TSU ran more than 86 plays in a game was Sept. 15, 2007 at Austin Peay in a 33-32 double overtime victory ... At the start of the game, TSU had outscored its opponents 85-32 in the fourth quarter. The Racers outscored the Tigers 22-0 in the fourth quarter Saturday ... Murray State leads the all-time series 13-11 and have won the last five meetings dating back to 2008, including four in a row at Roy Stewart Stadium.