Murray St. offense flat in 21-9 loss to LouisvilleBy BETH RUCKER, AP Sports Writer Thursday, Sep 1, 2011
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP)—Murray State coach Chris Hatcher hopes to ride his fast-paced spread offense all the way into this season’s Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. Against Louisville, the “Hatch Attack” was just a little too dull, though.
Mike Harris did what he could to keep Murray State in the game with 116 yards rushing, which included a 22-yard dash into open space for a touchdown with 14:12 left in the game. But Casey Brockman finished 17-of-34 for just 148 yards, with three interceptions and no touchdowns as the Racers lost to the Cardinals 21-9 in the season opener for both teams on Thursday night.
“I knew going into the game that the strength of Louisville’s team is their defensive, there’s no question about it,” Hatcher said. “They play extremely good defense. Some of those runs that Mike had—against some of the teams in our league, some of them are probably touchdown runs. We just couldn’t sustain a drive.”
Murray had ranked seventh in the FCS with 313.5 yards passing per game last season and had averaged 549.7 yards of offense and 44 points per game in Brockman’s previous six starts.
“It wasn’t a protection issue at all,” Harris said. “Our offensive line, they did one of the best jobs I’ve seen them do. It’s just some games it’s just you just don’t click like that. It went in their favor tonight.”
Louisville true freshman Teddy Bridgewater’s only drive behind center was marred by two false start penalties, a delay of game penalty and an interception.
It didn’t help that Louisville built a three-touchdown lead early.
Will Stein was on the run when he hit DeVante Parker in coverage on a 39-yard pass in the corner of the end zone for the freshman’s first catch that put the Cardinals up 21-0 with 13:20 in the third quarter. Stein set up the score with a 37-yard heave to Michaelee Harris across the middle of the field on second-and-12.
Stein, who was 17-of-32 for 226 yards, also completed six passes on a 13-play drive that culminated with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Scott Radcliff with 5:10 left in the first quarter. A botched punt by Murray State put the Cardinals right back in the red zone, and Vic Anderson ran 2 yards for a touchdown with 3:12 in the first.
Anderson finished with 65 yards on nine carries.
Louisville began to stumble during the second half, committing two of their three fumbles on back-to-back drives in the third quarter.
Anderson committed the final fumble at the Racers 26, and Murray State followed with a 13-play, 74-yard drive that ended with Mike Harris’ touchdown run. But Kienan Cullen, who earlier had let the snap on a punt attempt go over his head for a loss of 21 yards, missed the extra point for Murray State, and the Racers didn’t cross midfield again but managed to shut the Cardinals down in the second half.
We shut them out in the second half against a team that runs the ball, and if you watched us play at all last year, we had a hard time doing that to folks,” Hatcher said. I’m pleased with the way they performed.”
The Cardinals also struggled against the Racers’ hurry-up offense late in the first half. Brockman completed passes of 29 yards and 20 yards to Arthur Brackett that led to a 30-yard field goal by Cullen with 3 seconds before halftime.
Louisville also tried a few tricks with Chris Philpott attempting two faked punts. The first resulted in a 40-yard run by Philpott and a first down at the Murray State 15 but was negated by a Jeremy Wright fumble two plays later. His second fake, an 8-yard run, failed to pick up a first down.