The Murray State Racers took on the Youngstown State Penguins on Hall of Fame & Senior Day
Now the Murray State Racers have seen the Missouri Valley Football Conference and it was just as advertised, the best Football Championship Subdivision in the nation.
On the final game of the 2023 season, the Racers (2-9, 1-7 MVFC) once again showed a high level of competitive spirit, only to fall short on the scoreboard 34-17 to the Youngstown State Penguins at Roy Stewart Stadium.
A crowd of 5,957 watched on Hall of Fame and Senior Day and a moment in the pregame when the jerseys of Racer Greats, Dennis Jackson and Don Clayton, were retired.
With quarterback DJ Williams out after an injury last week at Illinois State, back up Jayden Stinson threw for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It was Stinson’s 47-yard scoring strike to Cole Rusk in the first quarter that tied the game 7-7 and later Matt Maldonado’s 26-yard field goal put the Racers in front 10-7 with 11:03 remaining in the second quarter. The touchdown pass to Rusk was set up by a fake punt by the Racers with Eric Phoenix hitting long snapper Ben Williams for a first down.
The Racers went into the halftime intermission trailing the Penguins 20-10.
MSU’s final touchdown of the season came in the third quarter when Stinson hit Michael Fox on an end zone fade from the 9-yard line.
- Today was the first meet meeting between the Racers and Penguins since 1987 when both teams competed in the Ohio Valley Conference.
- The Racers honored nine student-athletes and their families on the field pregame. The group included: Ryan Batsch, LB (Loveland, Ohio), Golden Eke, WR (Houston, Texas), Michael Fox, WR (Orlando, Fla.), Jacob Frye, OL (Murfreesboro, Tenn.), Isaiah Hill, WR (Shorewood, Ill.), Thiago Kapps, K (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil), Cole Williamson, OL (Carrollton, Ga.), Jonas Woods, OL (Milwaukee, Wisc.), Kanyon Walker, S (Leesburg, Fla.)
- Also pregame, the Racers unveiled a new wall of Racer Football Greats in the southeast corner of Roy Stewart Stadium where there are now four jerseys that have been retired at Murray State. New to the all are No. 25, Dennis Jackson, who was the first African American student-athlete at MSU in 1961 and No. 21, Don Clayton, who finished his career in 1974 and is MSU’s all-time leading rusher.
- Jawaun Northington ended the season as the Racers’ rushing leader with 380 yards.
- Cortezz Jones has three rushing touchdowns for the team lead.
- DJ Williams played in 10 games and led the Racers from the QB position with 1,529 yards passing with 11 touchdowns.
- Michael Fox, Cole Rusk, Taylor Shields combined to catch 12 of MSU’s 14 touchdown passes in the 2023 season.
- Matt Maldonado was MSU’s scoring leader with 41 points (7-of-8 FG & 20-of-20 PAT).
- James London booted the longest field goal of 53 yards for the Racers in the game at North Dakota State, it was the longest of the regular season in the MVFC.
- Orion Phillips booted the longest punt for the Racers in 2023 of 71 yards in the game at Missouri State.
- Nick Walker led the Racers with 58 tackles.
- Murray State’s 100th season in program history will be played in 2024.
- The schedule features games against SEC teams Kentucky and Missouri.
- Murray State’s MVFC opener is at North Dakota (Sept. 28) and its first conference home game at against South Dakota (Oct. 5).
- The 2023 class to the Murray State Hall of Fame was also honored. It included: football greats Squeeky Yarbrough (1982-85) and Nate Williams (2003-08), soccer legend Harriet Withers (2014-17), Cameron Carrico (2007-11) from men’s golf and Robin Courtney (1976-79) from baseball. Basketball MVPs Jonathan Stark (2016-18) and Ke’Shunan James (2014-18) were honored over the summer so they could return to Europe where they are current professional players.
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