MURRAY, Ky. (9/30/13) – Murray State head coach Chris Hatcher had a gut feeling in overtime. Instead of kicking the extra point, Hatcher rolled the dice with the two-point conversion, and Maikhail Miller hit Jeremy Harness in the end zone to give the Racers a dramatic, 35-34, overtime victory over Jacksonville State Saturday afternoon at JSU Stadium.
The victory put an end to a nine-game losing streak to the Gamecocks. The only other Racer victory came in 2003, when MSU won 23-17 in overtime at Stewart Stadium. The victory was also the first overtime victory since defeating Eastern Kentucky in 2004. The win also put an end to the Gamecocks six-game OT winning streak, dating back to the Racers victory in 2003.
JSU (4-1, 0-1 OVC) got the ball to start overtime, and needed just two DeMarcus James runs to reach the endzone.
The Racers (3-2, 1-0 OVC) did not have it as easy on their drive as they found themselves facing a 4th-and-10. Miller rolled right and found Harness on the sideline for a 13-yard gain and the first down. A pair of Miller runs went for nine yards, and forced the Racers to face another fourth down. This time, Miller did it with his legs, as he went two yards for the first down. On the next player, Miller went up the middle for the touchdown.
After the Racers lined up for the two-point conversion, both teams exchanged timeouts. MSU came out of the second timeout and went with a Miller rollout to the right side. The sophomore found a wide open Harness for the game winner, sending the Racer sideline into eruption and Hatcher sprinting across the field.
JSU forced overtime by driving 71 yards in the final 4:12, getting a Griffin Thomas 25-yard field goal as time expired.
The Racers got on the board on their second possession of the game as they put together a 13-play scoring drive that was done mostly on the ground. Jaamal Berry was the catalyst on the drive as he carried four times for 17 yards, while Miller added a 19-yard run to push the Racers deep into Gamecock territory.
MSU faced a third-and-long early in the drive, but Miller was able to hit Walter Powell for 13-yards and the first down. The drive stalled after an intentional grounding penalty, but Jordan Benton made sure the Racers got points on the board as he connected on a 40-yard field goal.
The special teams and defense helped the Racers reach the endzone for the first time on the day. Steven Mix flipped the field by booming a career-best 66-yard punt that was downed on the one-yard line. JSU was able to pick up one first down, but the Racers defense forced a punt.
The offense got the ball on their own 38-yard line. Berry burst up the middle for a 32-yard gain. Two players later, Miller found Powell on a crossing route for a 29-yard touchdown.
The Gamecocks managed to come back and put together a 10-play drive that ended with a 30-yard Griffin Thomas field goal. That drive was answered by the Racers 12-play drive that was capped with a 21-yard Benton field goal.
JSU hit the Racers with a trick play in the second quarter as they executed a fake punt on 4th-and-18 with a 31-yard pass play. The Gamecocks used the play to score from three-yards out on a run by Miles Jones.
The Racers came back on their next possession and used a Duane Brady 43-yard kickoff return to kick start the drive. A false start penalty to start the drive forced the Racers into a 3rd-and-long, but Miller and Powell connected on a nine-yard pass over the middle to pick up the first down. The drive then went to the ground as Miller picked up 32 yards on two carries, and Brady went five yards down to the goal line. Another false start penalty backed the ball to the six, before Brady went six yards for the touchdown on 3rd down.
The Gamecocks tried to push the ball down the field for one final scoring drive before the half ended. After converting a 4th-and-3, JSU threw a pass down the left sideline that looked to be a touchdown. Brandon Wicks had other ideas as he came from behind and punched the ball out, allowing Anthony Hayes to fall on the ball in the end zone.
JSU came out in the second half and drove down the field on a seven-play drive that resulted in a James 21-yard touchdown run. They took their first lead of the game as James capped off a 68-yard drive with a one-yard run late in the third quarter.
The Racers battled back to regain the lead early in the fourth quarter as Miller went over the right side for a 14-yard touchdown run on yet another fourth-down play.
The Gamecocks looked to be driving for the go-ahead score again, but Qua Huzzie had other ideas and returned his first career interception 48 yards. The Racer offense stalled and was forced to punt. But, on JSU’s next offensive play, Josh Manning stepped in front of another pass for his first career interception.
The Racers finished the game with 296 rushing yards and three rushing touchdowns. Miller led the way with 134 yards and two scores on 24 carries. He also went 14-for-26 for 109 yards and another score.
Berry added 88 yards on 10 carries, while Brady rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown on a career-high 23 carries.
Wicks led the Racer defense with 12 tackles and a forced fumble. Darrell Smith added 10 tackles, including three for loss.
The Racers return to action Oct. 5 as they welcome Tennessee Tech to Stewart Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
Information provided by John Brush
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