MSU falls to Davidson in PFL opener - The Trail Blazer: News

MSU falls to Davidson in PFL opener

Ted McCoart / MSU Athletics | Posted: Saturday, October 5, 2019 6:06 pm

Despite outscoring Davidson 21-0 in the fourth quarter, the Morehead State Football team dropped its opening Pioneer Football League game of 2019 with a 42-31 setback against the Wildcats on a sunny Saturday afternoon at Jayne Stadium.

Davidson, now 3-1 overall and 1-0 in PFL play, used an offensive outburst of 212 yards on the ground and 190 yards through the air on its way to a 35-7 halftime lead. On the other side of the football, the visitor defense allowed just 350 yards total and kept the Eagles from finding their rhythm in both the run and pass game on offense.

The lone Morehead State score in the opening half came on a 91-yard bolt to the end zone by Ian Holder on a kickoff return with 53 seconds remaining in the first quarter. The score, which was Holder's first career kickoff return touchdown and the Eagles' second of that variety on the season, cut the Davidson lead to 14-7.

In the second half, Morehead State finally found its footing on offense with an 11-play, 50-yard drive that finished with a 28-yard field goal by junior kicker Andrew Foster to pull the score to 35-10 with 10:40 remaining in the third quarter.

The Wildcats answered with a 90-yard touchdown drive that used 6:08 of game time to push their lead to 42-10.

In the final quarter, MSU sophomore quarterback Mark Pappas found junior running back Jovan Smith out of the backfield who turned on the jets and found an opening along the sideline for a 53-yard score.

For the Louisville, Ky., native Smith, the score was his first career receiving touchdown to diversify his scoring portfolio made up of 11 career rushing scores.

The pass was Pappas' eighth touchdown throw of the season and helped him to a 146-yard day through the air on 11-of-19 passing that included and interception.

Morehead State's final two drives put junior dual-threat quarterback DeAndre Clayton in the spotlight as he passed for the first two touchdowns of his career. Clayton, who is a 6-foot-2 transfer from Malone (Ohio), was a perfect 6-for-6 passing for 42 yards while using his wheels seven times for a team-best 50 yards rushing in the game.

Overall, the MSU offense turned in a much better showing of 255 total yards in the second half to give them a game total of 350 on 188 through the air and 162 on the ground.

Defensively, sophomore middle linebacker Justin Benvie made a game (and career) high 13 tackles. Along with Benvie's solid performance from the linebacking core, senior Beau Griegoforced two fumbles and finished second on the team with eight tackles. In the secondary, junior cornerback C.J. Austin intercepted his second pass of the season.

The loss drops Morehead State to a 2-3 overall record and 0-1 in league play.

The Eagles return to action on Oct. 12 with road trip to PFL for Jacksonville. The Eagles and Dolphins are scheduled to kick things off in the Sunshine State at 1:00 p.m. ET.


"We knew offensively we had to control the clock and we didn't do that. That was kind of the issue in the first half. For the game we were 2-of-10 on third downs. Two of the drives we didn't score in the red zone we also had two personal foul penalties to take us out of the red zone.

"Defensively we had to get some stops and we just didn't. 335 rushing yards was just unacceptable. You just can't win games if you don't control the line of scrimmage."

"As the game went on we found ways to run the football which was good. Our team knows how important this game was. I told them, let's not project ahead. Our job is put a good plan together and find a way to win the next game and put us 1-1. I don't feel like the PFL champion will go undefeated so we still have a shot."

"I think DeAndre (Clayton) maybe earned some more playing time. But we have to look at film so I don't want to say right away. We have to put ourselves in the best situation, whether that is a two quarterback system or one. So we'll look at film and evaluate it this week."