DAVIDSON, N.C. — It took the entire 40 minutes Saturday, but Morehead State football earned a 35-28 victory at Davidson.
The Eagles (2-4, 1-2 PFL) scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 30-yard run by freshman running back Jovan Smith with 3:22 left and then held on as Davidson (5-2, 2-2 PFL) drove to the Eagle 28-yard line before Kordell Brown and Aaron Turk knocked down a last-ditch pass play by the home team in the end zone. The win ended an eight-game road losing streak overall and extended MSU’s winning streak over Davidson to seven games.
“We finished today,” said head coach Rob Tenyer. “I told our team it was going to be a battle today. They were sky high at 5-1. This was a big game for both teamS. We fought through some adversity today again, but that’s what I was most proud of. We did some things along the way that hurt us, and we also had some kids – especially on defense – who stepped up and played like I’ve never seen play before. This was a quality team win.”
Tied at 21 at the half, Morehead State’s defense held Davidson to a solo first down before punting early in the third quarter. That’s when quarterback Lawson Page and the offense engineered an astonishing 22-play, 88-yard drive that culminated in Page scoring from three yards out for a 28-21 advantage. Davidson was whistled for a pass interference call on a crucial third down from the Wildcat 13-yard line.
“I have never been a part of anything like that drive,” said Tenyer. “That was the turning point.”
The hosts tied at back at 28-all on a William Wicks’ three-yard score with 7:52 left. The offense then got the go-ahead score four minutes later when Smith, who had a career-high 127 yards on 21 carries, showed patience and then broke outside and ran away from the defense for the 30-yard touchdown.
MSU fell behind 7-0 early but answered with a 15-yard TD pass from Page to freshman Ian Holder in the first, Holder’s first career score. The Eagles took the lead 14-7 with 38 ticks left in the first on a 15-yard Page-to-Jarin Higginbotham connection. It marked Higginbotham’s 14th career pass reception in the end zone.
After another Davidson score tied it again at 14-14, running back Chris Nelson cashed in from a yard out with 4:12 remaining before halftime.
In the fourth quarter, just one play after the Eagles scored the eventual game-winning TD, freshman cornerback Brandon Barbee picked off Wildcat Davidson QB Tyler Phelps, his first career INT. Then, sophomore punter Andrew Foster pinned the Wildcats at their own one-yard line with 99 yards to go in just 2:10 on their final possession.
The defense held Davidson, who led the nation in rushing yards, to more than 100 yards below its average. Davidson finished with 368 total yards to the Eagles’ 358. Freshman linebacker Justin Benvie and safety Sayyid Kanuled the Eagles with nine stops apiece. Kanu posted three pass breakups. Freshman Tyre Allen also picked up his first career fumble recovery on a muffed punt catch. The Eagles won the turnover battle, 2-1.
Page concluded the day 16-for-29 for 166 yards and two scores.
Morehead State returns home next weekend to host PFL foe Valparaiso for Homecoming at 2 p.m. ET.