Story and photo courtesy of Morehead State Athletics
MOREHEAD, Ky. - The Morehead State football team scored six different ways en route to a 76-24 win over Pioneer Football League opponent Valparaiso in the season finale for both teams on Saturday afternoon at Jayne Stadium.
Four of Morehead State’s touchdowns were via the pass and four were on the ground. The other three were via returns -- one kick, one interception and one fumble. Senior kicker Rainer Duzan also converted on 10-of-11 extra-point attempts.
The Eagles finish the campaign 4-7 overall and 3-5 in the Pioneer Football League, while the Crusaders close out the year 1-10 in all games and 1-7 in league contests. Morehead State also improves to 15-3 all-time vs. Valparaiso.
“Our preparation was very good this week, and it showed in the game today,” Head Coach Matt Ballard. “We had a ton of young men contribute, and it was nice to see us execute in all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams).”
MSU honored 13 individuals prior to the Senior Day tilt, but it was sophomore Rees Macshara who posted a career-best 211 rushing yards in the victory. In the process, he became the first Eagle since 2000 to collect 1,000 rushing yards in a season.
Morehead State finishes the campaign with three victories in its last four games, including wins of 42, 35 and 52 points. The Eagles collected 106 first downs (26.5 pg) and 2,303 total yards (575.8 pg) during the stretch, while out-scoring opponents, 223-107.
“Our goal was to close out the season with four straight wins, but I’m happy that we were able to get at least three -- and all by big margins,” Ballard said. “We had a rough stretch in the middle of the year, but our guys stuck to the plan and continued to work really hard.”
Morehead State senior quarterback Zach Lewis, who finished 12-of-14 for 207 yards and three touchdowns, wraps up his career with school records in all four categories. In 40 games as an Eagle, he finishes 936-of-1,499 for 10,251 yards and 72 scores.
MSU senior wide receiver Donte Sawyer, who finished with six receptions for 186 yards and three touchdowns, wraps up his career with school standards in all three categories. In 43 contests as an Eagle, he finishes with 199 catches for 2,555 yards and 24 scores.
Sawyer’s performance in the season finale pushed his season total to 1,024 receiving yards, which is a Morehead State single-season record. His 186 yards also edged his career-best outing by three.
Duzan closes out his career with 258 points, 36 field goals and 150 extra points, which are all school records for a kicker. He wraps up the campaign 6-of-8 on field goals, with a long of 50 yards, and 54-of-57 on extra-point attempts.
“This senior class will go down as one of the more accomplished in school history,” Ballard. “What Zach, Donte and Rainer have done from a statistical standpoint is very impressive, but every young man in that class has made contributions at one point or another.”
The 76 points by Morehead State were its most in school history against a Division I opponent. The Eagles also collected a season-best 348 rushing yards in the win.
Z. Lewis, Sawyer, Duzan, offensive lineman Joey Clegg, defensive back Dexter Geohagan, running back Greg Lewis, offensive lineman Eric Matteson, defensive back Rashaad Palmer, defensive back Kameron Scott, slot receiver Adam Slupski, slot receiver Blake Stanley, wide receiver Kevin Thomas and wide receiver Jaison Yoshimura were all playing in their final games at Morehead State.