MURRAY — In football, T.J. Warren earned the Co-defensive Player of the Week after he tallied five tackles, including 2.0 for loss, had a pass breakup, a 30-yard fake punt run, and recorded a safety as Murray State picked up its first OVC victory of the season in defeating Eastern Illinois 24-17.
“I wish I could tell you it surprises me but it really doesn’t,” head coach Mitch Stewart said.
Warren’s safety, the first for the team since 2011, came early in the second quarter, as he tackled EIU’s quarterback for a seven-yard loss in the end zone. With his team leading by seven in the fourth quarter and facing a fourth down at its own 34-yard line, Warren called a fake punt from the field and rushed the ball 30 yards to keep the drive alive. The Racers would score later in the drive to account for the final margin in the game.
“He just played hard,” Stewart said. “He made a lot of plays for us. He made me look great, because everybody wanted to talk after the game about the call on the fake punt like, “Hey man coach, that was a great call,’ but that was a dumb call. That was fourth and nine on our side of the field, but I felt like we needed a spark and I believe in that kid…Kid has a lot of confidence and believes in himself, and us, and in that moment he believed he could get the first down.”
“It was a gutsy call, because when I heard it, Coach Hunter (Harris) gave me the go and said it came from the head man,” Warren said. “I did my count and I knew we needed a spark. It was late in the fourth quarter. EIU was building momentum and I had to be that leader, so I looked and just had to trust myself and my teammates.”