Defense shines as Racers move to 4-0

Murray State head coach Dean Hood has guided the Racers to a 4-0 start for the first time in nearly three decades after a 35-13 win over TSU on Sunday.

MURRAY —  The newly ranked Murray State Racers (#25 in the polls) came out and put a beat down on Tennessee State 35-13 behind another strong defensive effort on Dennis Jackson Day to move to 4-0 for the first time in nearly 30 years. 

As the first student athlete to break the color barrier at Murray State, Jackson was honored on Sunday with the naming of the Racer Room and by the Racers taking care of business on the football field. 

“That’s a thing that we are really happy about as a team, is to make sure that Dennis Jackson’s day ended the right way,” Murray State head coach Dean Hood said. “We talked about that at halftime, and we’ve talked about it for a couple of days, ever since Dennis did the presentation to our team on the scoreboard and all of the wisdom that he shared with our team. It was really important to our guys to make sure that he had a good day.”

Jackson met with the team and talked to them about cherishing the moments and not taking anything for granted. They took that message to the field where the defense bent, but rarely broke, and the offense moved the ball both in the air and on the ground.

“He was a true trailblazer and our guys are standing on his shoulders and so are many other people that followed him,” Hood said. “We are really excited that we could get the W on his day.” 

For the third straight game, the Racers scored a defensive touchdown off an interception. This time it was linebacker Marvin Pierre who stepped in front of a pass in the flat and returned it 41 yards for the score. These splash plays have become the norm this season and Hood said it’s all because the players have bought in to the scheme and given maximum effort.

“It’s all attributed to them,” Hood said. “There’s no magical drill or thing you can say to somebody. It’s got to be somebody that has a passion and a desire to be really good and wants to work at it and that’s what our kids have done.”

The Racers were led on the day by Jacob Bell’s 90 all-purpose yards, 55 receiving and 35 rushing, as well as Preston Rice’s two passing TD’s and one rushing TD. TSU took the early lead, but the Racers offense responded with a quick score on the ensuing drive to tie things up at 7. From there, the defense allowed just two field goals, while the offense found a groove. 

Under Hood, the Racers are now off to a 4-0 start and have guaranteed a winning season for the first time since 2011, but Hood said the record means nothing until it’s all over. 

“That has nothing to do with next week,” Hood said. “Whether we are 4-0 or 0-4 has no bearing on what’s going to happen next Sunday, so you really just have to focus on the process and count your blessings…It really is important to focus on the things that matter to give us an opportunity to be successful in the next one.”

The next one for the Racers will be another home game as they host Eastern Illinois at 2 p.m. at Roy Stewart Stadium.