The Eastern football team was leading No. 19 Murray State 27-13 in the third Sunday, and seemed to be in solid position to pulls off an upset win.
But the Racers would score the final 28 points of the game, winning 41-27 to remain unbeaten on the season. Eastern fell to 1-4 this season with the loss.
Murray State would open the scoring in the game when freshman running back Damonta Witherspoon scored from a yard out with just under three minutes left in the first quarter.
Eastern responded just over eight minutes of game time later when freshman quarterback Otto Kuhns hit a wide open Robby Lofton for an 18-yard touchdown. It was the first touchdown of the season for the redshirt-senior receiver.
The teams would then exchange field goals and the score was tied 10-10 entering halftime.
Murray State received the second half kickoff. On the very first play of the half, Eastern redshirt-senior Mark Williams picked off Racers’ quarterback Preston Rice and ran it back 38 yards for a touchdown.
It was Williams’ second interception and his first pick six since the 2017 season.
A Murray State field goal cut Eastern’s lead to 17-13, and on the first play ensuing Panther’s possession freshman running back Jordan Smith ran for an 80-yard touchdown, the first of his career.
Stone Galloway added another field goal on Eastern’s next drive to extend their lead to 27-13.
The Racers took over the game from there, scoring touchdowns on their next two drives and field goals on the next two drives after that.
They would score one final touchdown with just under four minutes left in the game.
Eastern’s final eight drives of the game ended with three punts, three turnovers and two turnovers on downs.
Kuhns struggled a bit in his third career start, passing 10-for-26 for 141 yards, a touchdown and 2 interceptions in the fourth quarter that hampered Eastern’s comeback efforts. He also ran the ball 13 times for 64 yards.
Smith ended the game with 13 carries for 142 yards and his lengthy touchdown run.
Sophomore linebacker Jason Johnson led the Panthers in tackles once again with 11. He had led the team in tackles in each of the last four games and now had 55 total tackles this season.
Eastern’s next game will be at home against Jacksonville State on April 3 with kickoff scheduled for 3 p.m.
Adam Tumino can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]