In really a tale of two halves, Morehead State football battled but came up short in a Pioneer League showdown for first place with visiting Davidson Saturday.
The Wildcats took advantage of an interception and a turnover on downs in MSU territory in the fourth quarter to score twice and held on to knock off the host Eagles 29-22 on an overcast and drizzly day at Jayne Stadium.
The Eagles were held to negative rushing yards in the first half but still led 6-0 on two Andrew Foster field goals before Davidson turned the tide late in the first half with two scores. A blocked PAT by Vaughn Taylor, Jr., led to a long two-point defensive conversion by Tyler Noble, and the Eagles only trailed 13-8 at halftime.
MSU then took a 15-13 lead with 7:40 left in the third period when QB Mark Pappas connected with wideout DeVonte Adams on a 17-yard touchdown. But a field goal pushed Davidson back on top 16-15 and Pappas was picked off on the second play of the fourth quarter. Davidson scored on a 32-yard jaunt. Later in the final period, MSU needed to get a first down deep in its own territory but Pappas' pass was mishandled. The Wildcats scored on a 14-yard run minutes later for a 29-15 lead.
Pappas and running back Earl Stoudemire did connect on a 15-yard touchdown pass with 3:03 left to get MSU to within a score after a 72-yard drive, but the onside kick was recovered by Davidson and it ran out the clock to improve to 5-0 in the PFL as the Eagles slipped to 4-1 and 5-3 overall.
The Eagle defense was on the field for 75 plays, leading to a season-high 107 total tackles. Linebacker Vincent Winey was everywhere, coming up with a season-high 22 tackles. He was within one of his own school single-game record of 23 he set against Butler in the final spring game. Winey added a tackle for loss and a fumble forced as well.
Defensive back Khiyree Keith also had a career day with 19 stops, while Taylor, Jr., upped his season tackle-for-loss total to a PFL best 19 with three in the backfield today along with a half sack. Linebacker Cameron Barrett produced a season-high 10 tackles, 1.5 for losses and forced a fumble, one of four times the Wildcats put the ball on the ground today.
Pappas finished with 262 yards and two TDs but also was picked off twice. He completed seven of his 24 completions to wideout BJ Byrd for 127 yards. Byrd now has six 100-yard games in 2021.
The Davidson front line proved to be tough on MSU's ground game as it was held to 17 yards. Davidson's triple option offense had 459 total yards, including 397 rushing.
Foster, who missed a pair of field goals at Marist, was successful on a 20 and 49-yard attempt today.
The Eagles head to the west coast next Saturday to face San Diego at 4 p.m. ET.