MOREHEAD — The Morehead State Football program will kick off the 2018 campaign under the lights in Richmond Thursday as the Eagles take on Bluegrass State rival Eastern Kentucky.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. ET at Roy Kidd Stadium. Both teams finished 2017 at 4-7.
The game can be seen live on ESPN+ by signing up at the link above. Live stats will also be available, and the game can be heard on the Eagle Sports Radio Network with WIVY-96.3 FM (Owingsville/Morehead) serving once again as the flagship station.
Thursday’s game will kickstart the 89th season of collegiate football at Morehead State.
QUOTING COACH TENYER
On the season opener
“It’s always an exciting time. This started way back even in January with winter workouts and into spring practice. We’ve had a tremendous fall camp. It gets to a point where you want to go out and play another football team. We want to be competitive and play hard and are looking forward to it.”
On the influx of talent in the program in the last few years
“We have done a really nice job of recruiting and have been able to attract the type of student-athlete we need here. We have started to recruit nationally now because of the changes to FCS football and just how competitive it’s become. We’ve been able to attract some very impressive young men.”
On the matchup with EKU
“We are a much different offensive and defensive team, and I know they are going to be too. The game will likely come down to special teams and takeaways. Coach Elder (EKU head coach) is a special teams guy. That’s his background. We’ve got to take care of the ball and do a good job in the kicking game.”
HELLO OLD RIVAL
The Eastern Kentucky-Morehead State series is one of the longest tenured in the state, with EKU leading the all-time matchups 52-16-4. The teams have only played four times since 1995, however, and the Colonels have claimed all four. The last MSU victory in the series came at EKU in 1990, 27-17.
ONE TOWN.ONE TEAM
The town of Morehead and the region have shown tremendous support for the Eagle football program, and in fact MSU has led the Pioneer Football league in attendance for FIVE consecutive seasons. Last year, MSU averaged 5,887.
Morehead State has a winning record (7-6) in the last 13 seasons in season openers.
TENYER AGAINST THE COLONELS
Head coach Rob Tenyer has faced Eastern Kentucky twice as the Eagles’ head coach, dropping both contests. As an assistant at MSU from 2001-12, Tenyer was part of two other squads that faced the Colonels, falling in 2008 and 2012.
Morehead State’s 2018 roster features 95 current players, and 45 hail from the Bluegrass State, nearly half. That’s 47 percent of the roster from in-state hometowns.
Senior wide receiver Jarin Higginbotham was named to the official preseason All-Pioneer Football League list. The 6-foot, 200-pound wideout ranked third on the MSU single-season chart last year with 974 yards and 10 touchdowns.
SEVEN TABBED PRESEASON ALL-LEAGUE
Seven Eagles were tabbed Preseason All-PFL by Phil Steele’s Magazine. Jarin Higginbotham is a first-team selection, while senior quarterback Lawson Page and sophomore slot receiver Landon Hurst were third-team picks on offense. On the defensive side of the ball, junior lineman Patrick Rice and senior lineman Nick Flores were named to the second-team. Senior lineman Jamil Butler and junior linebacker Jerome Brooks were on the third team.
Sophomore safety Starr Hutcherson was voted one of the permanent captains for 2018, becoming the first sophomore in head coach Rob Tenyer’s era (2013-) to be a team captain as a sophomore. He had 61 tackles in 2017 as a true freshman to rank third on the team.
Running back Arien Beasley transferred to Morehead State after playing some wide receiver at Eastern Kentucky. He is believed to be the first player ever to play in a game for both MSU and EKU.
TURNING THE PAGE
Lawson Page returns after throwing for 2,682 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2017. He also rushed for 301 yards and four scores. As the Eagles’ “wildcat” QB in 2016, he rushed for seven touchdowns, giving him 32 scores responsible for in just 20 career games.
Morehead State has led the entire PFL in passing offense for three consecutive seasons. In fact, the Eagles’ aerial game has accumulated 9,976 yards and 78 touchdowns since 2015.
Morehead State won two home games in 2017 by scoring the go-ahead points with less than a minute remaining. The Eagles defeated Dayton on a 55-yard passing score with 50 seconds left and knocked off Stetson with a 15-yard score with 15 seconds left. In 2016, the Eagles defeated Valparaiso on a scoring pass with 22 seconds left in the contest at home as well.