MURRAY - Tim Boyle grew up in Connecticut.
So, the chill in the air on Saturday evening didn’t bother him at all.
“I felt like I was back at home,” Boyle said. “Everyone was teasing me, but I actually enjoy (the cold).”
Boyle turned in a solid performance, throwing a pair of first-half touchdown passes that gave the Colonels (3-5, 3-3 OVC) a big early lead. They used that momentum to pick up a 26-13 victory over the Racers (2-6, 1-3) at Stewart Stadium.
The Colonels finished with almost 500 yards of total offense - including 279 yards on the ground - as they won back-to-back games for the first time in almost two years.
“Today was a good day, especially in the first half,” Boyle said. “We came out on fire.”
Even with temperatures in the low 40s, the Colonels got into the end zone four times in the opening half and had 299 yards of total offense.
Boyle hit tight end Dan Paul on a 22-yard touchdown pass mid-way though the first quarter. In the second quarter he connected with Ryan Markush for a 38-yard touchdown pass.
Running back L.J. Scott had two scoring runs - 2 yards and 1 yards - as EKU jumped on top 26-3.
Boyle was 15-of-25 for 201 yards and an interception.
“He managed the game well. He was effective,” EKU head coach Mark Elder said of Boyle. “He did a good job. That’s what we want him to do.”
EKU’s running game was very effective once again.
After rushing for a season-best 229 yards last week against UT-Martin, the Colonels averaged 5.1 yards on 55 carries in the win over the Racers. Sophomore Daryl McCleskey had a career-best 144 yards on 21 carries, including a 72-yard run that set up EKU’s first touchdown.
Ralph Patton had 54 yards on nine carries, Scott had 35 yards on 13 carries and Ethan Thomas had 28 yards on eight carries.
“Six different backs have carried the ball for us in meaningful time so far this year,” Elder said. “That’s good. We want to be balanced. We want to run the football and throw the football. That’s our plan. To keep doing both.”
While the offense was moving the ball on the ground and through the air, the EKU defense was shutting down the Racers.
Through three quarters, Murray State had only 118 total yards on 41 plays (2.8 yards a play) with only six first downs. The Racers got a pair of field goals in the first half from Gabriel Vincent (34 and 21 yards), then scored a touchdown on an 18-yard pass from Shuler Bentley to Jordan Gandy with only 2:44 left in the game.
Murray had 273 yards of offense, most of which came in the final few minutes.
“We just wanted to make sure that we were flying around to the ball,” EKU linebacker Luder Jean Louis said. “They like pass the ball a lot. They like to forces defense to go sideline to sideline. That’s kind of what we worked on all week.”
The Colonels had 181 yards and eight first downs in the second half, but did not score after halftime.
“We were moving the ball, we just weren’t able to finish drives,” Elder said. “We did that in the first half.”
EKU’s best scoring opportunity of the second half actually came on defense.
In the fourth quarter, Corey Glass forced a fumble and safety Kobie Grace picked up the ball and returned it 51 yards, but as he was walking into the end zone, he had the ball knocked out of his hands from behind.
The play resulted in a touchback and the Racers got the ball back.
“That was one of the few truly disappointing plays of the day,” Elder said.
There were a couple of other missed opportunities for the Colonels.
Kicker Lucas Williams failed on two extra-point attempts and also couldn’t connect on a 31-yard field goal.
Still, the positive - especially the final outcome - overwhelmed those negatives.
Neiko Creamer had three catches for 66 yards and BK Smith had five catches for 39 yards.
For the second-straight game, the offensive line did not allow a sack.
Jean Louis had six tackles and two more sacks, giving him a team-best six on the season.
After losing five of their first six games, the Colonels have certainly regrouped.
“The biggest thing right now is just to continue what we are doing,” Boyle said. “Our goal is to be 6-5. We shot ourselves in the foot early in the season. But, that’s in the past.”