EIU Edges Murray State, 50-49 In Overtime


Published on September 24 2012 7:15 am
Last Updated on September 24 2012 7:15 am
Written by Millie Lange

CHARLESTON -- On a record setting receiving night junior Erik Lora converted a 2-point conversion pass to Von Wise in overtime as Eastern Illinois won 50-49 over Murray State in the Ohio Valley Conference opener for both schools.

Lora caught a school and OVC record 21 passes for a school record 269 yards with three touchdowns as the Panthers improved to 2-2 on the season.  Murray State dropped to 1-3.

“The fact that I set those records and also made the game winning pass are both spectacular, but Von made the last play to win the game,” said an elated Lora following the game.  “Coach called the play and I scrambled out and I have the option to run or throw.  I saw two defenders in the way so I threw it towards the end zone and just hoped Von would make the catch.”

Lora’s 2-point play was set up by a Jimmy Garoppolo to Chavar Watkins 9-yard pass during EIU’s overtime possession.  It was the only pass of the overtime session for the Panthers as they moved the ball on runs by Garoppolo and Jake Walker in the overtime period.

“Last week I told you guys I thought about going for two at Illinois State and it really depends on the situation; road game, conference game, home game; those factors,” said EIU head coach Dino Babers.  “It was not automatic, but Murray State has a good offense and I didn’t want to go extra overtime periods with them so we made the call to end it on that play at home.”

Murray State scored on its overtime possession on a 1-yard run by Jaamal Berry.  MSU had tied the game at 49-49 with 5:11 left in regulation as Jordan Benton knocked home a 21-yard field goal, his fifth made field goal of the game.  Benton also was good from 39, 30, 35 and 36 yards.

In the game the Racers broke EIU’s OVC record for plays in a game by running 110.  EIU had set the OVC record at 106 plays last week in their double overtime loss at Illinois State.  The Panthers did join the Racers for breaking the FCS record for plays in a game as the two teams combined to run 210 plays, the previous FCS record was 196.

EIU opened the game with Lora catching 13 passes for 172 yards and all three of his touchdowns.  He hauled in two touchdown passes of 10 and 23 yards from Garoppolo and a 37-yard TD pass from Chris Wright.  Lora moved into eighth on the Panthers career receiving charts.  EIU led 20-13 at the end of the first quarter.

“I thought this might be a big game for all of our receivers,” said Lora.  “Everybody got touches tonight with Von making the biggest one of all.  I didn’t expect this and it’s by far my best career game.”

“I still can’t sum it up,” said Wise of the night and his catch.  “I know it was a big catch.  It could set the tone for the entire season for us.”

Garoppolo was 20-of-24 in the first quarter for 191 yards.  He finished the game with a career high 393 yards passing with five touchdowns as he was 39-of-60.

Casey Brockman was equal to the task at quarterback for MSU finishing the night 43-of-64 for 423 yards and two touchdowns.  Brockman added a short rushing touchdown.  Brockman’s favorite target on the night was Walter Powell with 13 catches for 142 yards.

MSU outscored the Panthers 20-0 in the second quarter taking a 33-20 lead into the locker room as Benton connected on his 30-yard field goal with eight seconds left in the half.  Berry had a 2-yard touchdown run as he finished with 40 yards on the ground.

The Racers extended that lead to 36-20 with a Benton field goal on the opening drive of the second half before Garoppolo led the Panthers back on touchdown passes to Wise and Watkins in the third quarter.  The EIU defense helped shut down the Racers limiting them to only three second half field goals.

“I’m really proud of this team and the way they battled tonight,” said Babers.  “The intensity level of our defense picked up in the second half and they made some big stops.  We fought and kept pulling for each other throughout the game.”

EIU took a 42-39 lead with 14:33 to play in regulation on a Walker 3-yard run and Garoppolo to Wright 2-point conversion.  Walker finished with 102 yards rushing as he became the 25th back in EIU history to go over the 1,000 yard mark for his career.

 The Panther defense was led by LeQuince McCall with 12 tackles, ten solo and a 1.5 tackles for loss.  Jourdan Wickliffe and Robert Haynes each added ten tackles.  Greg Mahan had a pair of sacks.  MSU’s defense was led by Blake Salter with ten tackles.

EIU hosts Austin Peay next Saturday at 1:30 p.m. for its Family Weekend game.

Game Notes

* Erik Lora sets EIU & OVC single game record with 21 receptions
* Erik Lora sets EIU single game record for receiving yards with 269 (6th EIU player ever with 200+ plus yards)

* Jimmy Garoppolo had 5 touchdown passes for second time this season (tied for second best in EIU history single game)

* Jimmy Garoppolo had career high 393 yards passing, 7th career 300-yard day (3rd most all-time at EIU)

* Jimmy Garoppolo had 60 passing attempts for second straight week

* Chris Wright becomes third wide receiver this year to throw a touchdown pass

* EIU is now 2-4 all-time in overtime games (EIU has now played back-to-back OT games this year)

* Murray State set OVC record with 110 plays in the game (broke EIU’s record of 106 plays set last week)

* Eastern Illinois and Murray State combined for 210 plays setting the FCS record for plays in a game