Preview: Murray State - Eastern Illinois

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From OVCSports...

Eastern Illinois Panthers (4-2, 3-0 OVC)
at Murray State Racers (2-4, 1-1 OVC)
Saturday, October 14 • 3:00 p.m. CT
Roy Stewart Stadium (16,800) • Murray, Ky.
TV:.................................................. OVC Digital Network
Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=184253
Series Record:......................... Eastern Illinois leads 18-14
Last Meeting:............... Murray State won 40-38 (10/22/16)
Kim Dameron at Eastern Illinois:................... 22-19 (4 yrs.)
Kim Dameron Overall:............................................. same
Mitch Stewart at Murray State:....................... 9-19 (3 yrs.)
Mitch Stewart Overall:.............................................. same
Eastern Illinois Last Week:... W, 24-23 vs. Tennessee Tech
Murray State Last Week:.......... W, 13-10 at #25 UT Martin

GAME NOTES: Sitting tied atop the OVC standings with a three-game winning streak (and a home game with nationally-ranked Jacksonville State looming next week), Eastern Illinois will travel to Murray State on Saturday. The Panthers had won four-straight in the series until a year ago when the Racers came from behind to pull off a 40-38 victory in a game that featured a combined 1,101 yards of total offense. Kicker Connor Mitchell was named National Specialist of the Week after he made six field goals (37, 36, 37, 49, 25, and 29 yards) including what proved to be the game-winner with 2:31 to play in the game. Mareio McGraw rushed for 139 yards for the Racers while KD Humphries passed for 299 yards and a touchdown. The Panthers were led by Devin Church who rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns and caught four passes for 58 yards and an additional score. Eastern Illinois head coach Kim Dameron was an assistant coach at Murray State from 1993-95 under Houston Nutt.

SCOUTING EASTERN ILLINOIS: Eastern Illinois is 3-0 in OVC play for the first time since 2015 (a year it made the FCS Playoffs) after a 24-23 home win over Tennessee Tech. The Panthers have won their three Conference games by a combined seven points this season (and its non-conference win came by just two points). EIU fell behind 14-3 at halftime and turned to backup quarterback Bud Martin in the second half. Martin completed 10-of-14 passes for 204 yards and three touchdowns in leading the comeback. Junior Alexander Hollins was the benefactor of having Martin in the lineup, catching three second half touchdowns (43, 10 and 10 yards) and finishing the game with 125 receiving yards. Dennis Turner added four catches for 103 yards. Hollins final touchdown came with 10:47 to play to put EIU up by four points. TTU trimmed the margin to one with a 33-yard field goal but missed a 48-yard field goal with second seconds remaining that would have won the game. Freshman Mark Williams picked off his third pass of the season late in the fourth quarter; he currently ranks 29th nationally in interceptions/game (0.5). As a team EIU is fifth nationally in blocked kicks (3), eighth in fumbles recovered (7) and ninth in third down conversion defense (28.7%).

SCOUTING MURRAY STATE: After tallying only 170 yards of total offense in back-to-back losses to Austin Peay and Louisville, Murray State tallied 267 yards of total offense (including 126 yards in the fourth quarter) in topping No. 25 ranked UT Martin 13-10. The win snapped a six-game losing streak by the Racers to the Skyhawks. The game was deadlocked at 3-3 entering the fourth quarter before UTM returned a punt 67 yards for a score. But after throwing an interception, MSU got the ball back and went 80 yards in four plays, with the biggest play being a pass to Austin Thomas which he took 48 yards to the five-yard line before fumbling the ball which was recovered by DeQuan Dallas in the end zone for the game-tying touchdown. On the ensuing play, Lamont Crittendon forced a UTM fumble and the MSU offense was able to run the final 4:27 off the clock ending the game on a 32-yard field goal by Gabriel Vicente as the clock expired. Vicente also hit from 22 yards in the game and is now 8-of-9 on the season (88.9%, 7th nationally). Shuler Bentley passed for 243 yards and a touchdown in the win with four of those passes going to freshman Rodney Castille who finished with 92 receiving yards. MSU currently ranks ninth nationally in interceptions (9) and turnovers gained (14).

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