Murray at helm, DePauw drops opener 31-10
Freshman Lan Sansone chases down St. Olaf College’s sophomore Joel Reinhardt during Saturday’s game at Blackstock Field. Isabelle Chapman / The DePauw
Freshman Quarterback Justin Murray drops back for a pass during a game Saturday at Blackstock Field. He played the majority of the game. Isabelle Chapman / The DePauw
In Justin Murray's first collegiate game at quarterback - a start - one can't place all the blame for DePauw football's first loss of the season on the freshman. On the contrary, the Tigers have something to look forward to in the season, and subsequent years.
Despite DePauw's (0-1) 31-10 loss Saturday afternoon at Blackstock Stadium to St. Olaf College (2-0), Murray showed why the head coaching staff chose him over sophomore Drew Seaman. He utilized his speed, quickness to get outside the pocket and find receivers downfield, going 18-35 for 170-yards. He threw one touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Jackson Kirtley in the first quarter, and was picked off in the third quarter.
Murray is the first freshman to start an opening game for DePauw since 1978. He showed a large potential, but will need grooming to excel.
He began his day showcasing his skills as a mobile quarterback, rolling out to his right and hitting senior wide receiver Taylor Wagner for a 12-yard gain. He found Wagner again on the next play for 6-yards, but his drive was derailed when he fumbled the ball trying to stretch for a another first down on a run.
His turnover gave St. Olaf possession at midfield, and Oles quarterback Dan Dobson went to work on the DePauw secondary. He completed passes for 30 and 16-yards and scored the first points of the game on a one-yard rush.
On the next Tigers possession, Murray displayed his mobility to get outside the pocket and found Wagner again and hit senior Nikko Sansone in open space. After two first downs, DePauw punted, and the St. Olaf punt returner botched the catch on the three yard-line. The Tigers' Kortney Cartwright pounced on the ball, and DePauw started its third offensive drive on the Oles' two yard-line.
Murray, after a delay of game penalty, rolled out to his right looking in the end zone for an open man with three St. Olaf defenders in pursuit. As he was about to get tackled near the sideline, he threw across his body to Kirtley for DePauw's first - and only - touchdown of the game.
"Justin is a competitor, he's tough as nails, and we love that about him," Sansone said. "The offensive line and receiving corps love him. He did all he could do. He's a good player, and we have his back. Everyone has to learn from their mistakes and get better from there."
The Tigers scored just one more time - a field goal by junior Eric Malm - in third quarter as St. Olaf halted drives, and Murray's arm became erratic.
"We just were not consistent enough today," head coach Robby Long said after the game. "You cannot win tough football games that way."
Sansone added: "Justin gave 110 percent effort. It's great to have a quarterback who can put his head down and run...The worst thing to do right now is put our head in the tank. We have to keep our head up and give it 110 percent at practice to get better."
In the second half, DePauw was out-scored 21-3, and Murray was pulled in the final five minutes of the game in favor of Seaman. Seaman went 3-9, threw one interception and accumulated 20-yards through the air. During one offensive series for Seaman, two dropped passes by Kirtley possibly derailed a touchdown.
The Tigers travel to Wittenberg University (1-0) next Saturday at 7 p.m.
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