DAVIDSON, N.C. – The Morehead State football team erased an early 11-0 deficit Saturday to defeat the Davidson Wildcats, 40-32, in both team’s Pioneer Football League opener at Richardson Stadium.
Morehead State won its PFL opener for the first time since the 2008 season and improved to 2-2 overall. Davidson fell to 1-3. MSU topped the Wildcats for the third straight season, notching 40 or more points all three seasons.
Senior running back Rees Macshara recorded his eighth career 100-yard game with a game-best 129 yards on 27 totes. Sophomore quarterback Austin Gahafer, who leads the conference in yards per contest, threw for 276 yards on 24-of-41 with one touchdown. He also added 75 rushing yards and a score via the ground game. Senior slot receiver Brandon Bornhauser scored twice on the ground.
The Eagles trailed the hosts 18-7 early in the second quarter but scored the next 20 points.
“It was another rough start for us, but we settled in and did some great things on offense and defense,” Head Coach Rob Tenyer said. “I was happy that we rushed the ball much better today, and we had much better balance on offense.”
Morehead State ran a season-high 94 plays and gained a season-best 549 total yards. The Eagles had 276 through the air and 273 on the ground. Davidson totaled 485 yards but had 238 of that in the first quarter.
After falling behind by 11 in the first nine minutes, MSU got a four-yard TD run from junior Rob Harden, a four-yard score from Bornhauser, a 13-yard touchdown pass from Gahafer to senior wide receiver Cyrus Strahm and two Luke Boyd field goals to lead 27-18 late in the third period.
Davidson cut the contest to 27-25, but two more MSU scores effectively sealed the win. Junior slot receiver Justin Cornwall set up the first with a career-best 58-yard punt return, and Gahafer dashed 46 yards on a first-down play on the next drive to set up the final Eagle score. Gahafer capped one drive with an eight-yard scamper, and Bornhauser reached the end zone from five yards away for the final touchdown.
“Justin is a special player for us,” Tenyer said. “I think Davidson probably outkicked its coverage, and he had to go back several yards to catch the punt, but that was a huge return. Austin had a great read on his run and actually was smart by sliding down before he was tackled. He probably could have scored, but that ate up more clock at a crucial time.”
Junior cornerback Justin Grier paced the defense, which had six tackles for loss, with seven stops and two pass breakups. Junior lineman Ronald Cooper registered 2.5 tackles for losses and a sack, and freshman cornerback Braylyn Cook notched his first career interception. MSU now has at least one interception in all four games.
“We still need to work on not giving up so many big plays on defense, but I was proud of them,” Tenyer added. “They dug in and played a lot tougher today.”
Junior wide receiver Tanner Napier hauled in three passes for a team-best 73 yards. Gahafer completed passes to 11 different individuals.
Davidson quarterback J.P Douglas finished with 282 yards on a 20-for-36 effort. Austin Wells led the ground game with 56 yards on eight carries. Williams Morris led all players with 163 receiving yards on five catches.
Morehead State is idle next Saturday before hosting PFL foe Campbell on Oct. 4 at 1 p.m. ET. That contest will be the annual Homecoming game.
“This is a great time for our bye week,” Tenyer said. “We are 1-0 with three of our next four conference games at home. We’ll take some time to rest our bodies this week because we need it.”