Preview: Murray State - Pikeville

MurraySports

 

Pikeville Bears (0-0, 0-0 Mid-South) at Murray State Racers (0-0, 0-0 OVC)
Thursday, August 29 6:00 p.m. CT
Stewart Stadium (16,800) Murray, Ky.
TV:...................................................................... ESPN+
Series Record:............................................. First meeting
Allan Holland Jr. at Pikeville:........................ 26-29 (5 yrs.)
Allan Holland Jr. Overall:......................................... same
Mitch Stewart at Murray State:..................... 15-29 (4 yrs.)
Mitch Stewart Overall:.............................................. same

GAME NOTES: Murray State will kick off the season by hosting first-time opponent Pikeville on Thursday night. It is the first matchup between the teams and the third different OVC team that UPIKE has ever played (joining Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech).

SCOUTING PIKEVILLE: UPIKE is coached by former Eastern Kentucky quarterback Allan Holland Jr., who led the Colonels to a pair of OVC Championships (2007, 2008) and was the OVC Offensive Player of the Year in 2007. He is in his 10th overall season with the Bears and the sixth as the team's head coach (making him the longest tenured coach in the program's history). This season the team has been picked to finish sixth in the Mid-South Conference's Bluegrass Division. The team returns All-Conference quarterback Bowen Smith and running back Xondre Willis. Smith passed for 1,726 yards and 17 touchdowns a season ago while Xondre Willis had a team-best 1,074 yards and eight rushing scores in 2018. Also back is Willie McCloud who had 609 rushing yards a year ago.

SCOUTING MURRAY STATE: Murray State finished last year 5-3 in OVC play, its first winning Conference record since 2011 and only its third winning OVC mark since 2000. Included in those wins was a 40-38 victory over No. 19 Southeast Missouri on November 10 in which Malik Honeycutt returned a kickoff 79 yards for a touchdown with just three seconds remaining to give the Racers the dramatic win. Honeycutt was one of three Murray State specialists named to the Preseason All-OVC Team, as he was joined by kicker Gabriel Vicente and punter Steve Dawson. Vicente has connected on 29 field goals in two years with the Racers including a pair over 50 yards. Dawson led the OVC and ranked 19th nationally in punting (42.1 yards/punt) a season ago. The Racers do have to replace quarterback Drew Anderson who graduated after passing for 2,840 yards and 20 touchdowns a year ago. Sophomore Preston Rice will get the first look at the position; he completed 6-of-12 passes for 121 yards in limited action last year but did score the team's only touchdown at Kentucky, rushing on a 21-yard keeper late in the game. A year ago 18 different players caught at least one pass.

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