Preview: Murray State at Jacksonville State

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From OVCSports.com...

Murray State Racers (2-6, 1-3 OVC)
at #3 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (7-1, 5-0 OVC)
Saturday, November 4 • 1:00 p.m. CT
Burgess-Snow Field at JSU Stadium (24,000) • Jacksonville, Ala.
TV:.................................................. OVC Digital Network
Live Stats: http://stats.statbroadcast.com/broadcast/?id=186744
Series Record:..................... Jacksonville State leads 12-2
Last Meeting:........ Jacksonville State won 33-15 (11/12/16)
Mitch Stewart at Murray State:....................... 9-21 (3 yrs.)
Mitch Stewart Overall:.............................................. same
John Grass at Jacksonville State:................... 40-7 (4 yrs.)
John Grass Overall:................................................. same
Murray State Last Week:..... L, 26-13 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Jacksonville State Last Week: W, 23-7 vs. Southeast Missouri

GAME NOTES: After Murray State won the initial meeting between the two programs in overtime in 2003, Jacksonville State has won 12 of the past 13 contests, falling only by a 35-34 margin in another overtime contest in 2013. The Gamecocks have won three in a row in the series, including 33-15 a year ago in Murray. In that contest, Jacksonville State scored 17 seconds prior to the half to take a 7-3 lead into the locker room. The Gamecocks would eventually go ahead 26-3 on its way to the victory. Roc Thomas rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns on just 10 carries while Josh Clemons added 57 yards and a rushing score. Eli Jenkins passed for 261 yards and a touchdown. KD Humphries tossed a pair of touchdowns for the Racers while D’Montre Wade and Zachary Wade each had nine tackles and an interception for MSU.

SCOUTING MURRAY STATE: Murray State dropped its second-straight contest, falling at home to in-state rival Eastern Kentucky by a 26-13 margin. The Racers fell behind 26-6 at halftime and was able to pitch a second half shutout but could not score enough to come-from-behind and win. MSU was limited to just 273 yards of total offense, including only 63 yards on the ground. Quarterback Shuler Bentley passed for 210 yards and an 18-yard touchdown to Jordon Gandy in the fourth quarter. Gandy currently ranks 28th in the FCS in receiving touchdowns (6). Kicker Gabriel Vicente had a pair of field goals in the game and is now 13-of-16 on the season; he currently ranks 11th nationally in field goals made (1.38/game) and field goal percentage (78.6%). Senior Bishop Woods had a career-high 11 tackles against the Colonels, 1.5 of those being for loss; on the season Woods has 47 tackles and 6.0 tackles-for-loss. As a team, Murray State is first nationally in red zone offense (94.7%), fourth in passes intercepted (14), seventh in turnovers gained (21) and ninth in fewest yards penalized/game (39.63).

SCOUTING JACKSONVILLE STATE: Jacksonville State made it 29-straight OVC victories and 38 consecutive regular season wins against non-FBS opponents in besting Southeast Missouri 23-7. The game was tied after the first quarter before Cade Stinnett made a pair of second quarter field goals to give JSU a 13-7 advantage at the break. Stinnett made his career-high third field goal with 3:41 to play to give the team a nine-point cushion. The Gamecocks defense then forced a quick turnover on downs and Roc Thomas took a handoff and ran 27-yard to pay dirt to account for the final margin. The Gamecocks defense, which is now ranked No. 4 nationally (263.8 yards/game allowed), allowed just 209 yards of offense to the Redhawks, including only 22 net rushing yards. Darius Jackson had five tackles, including 2.0 for loss and a sack. Jackson, who now ranks first nationally in tackles-for-loss/game (1.9) had had a tackle-for-loss in 11-straight games dating back to last season. Jackson had 55.5 career tackles-for-loss, which is third among all among FCS players. Sophomore defensive back Marlon Bridges had nine tackles and blocked a field goal in the second quarter. Roc Thomas was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this season after rushing for 92 yards and a touchdown and catching a 59-yard pass. Head coach John Grass had a career winning percentage of 85.1 percent, the highest among all active FCS coaches.

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