It wasn’t the debut Rob Tenyer was hoping for.
Pikeville defeated Morehead State 13-10 in front of 8,000-plus fans at Jayne Stadium on Thursday.
It was Tenyer’s first game as the Eagles‘ head coach after spending the past 12 seasons as an MSU assistant.
Morehead outgained Pikeville 303 to 194 but couldn’t get the ball in the red zone — they only crossed inside the 20-yard line two times.
“I felt like we were really good offensively between the 30 and the 30,” Tenyer said. “I think it was a night where we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties and exchange problems with our quarterback and center we haven’t had since spring practice.”
In a first half that featured no scoring from either team, the Eagles had four chances to score but were marred by turnovers and penalties.
A missed 42-yard field goal, a Pikeville interception and a fumble on the Pikeville 20-yard line ended three straight drives in the first half.
Morehead then got the ball on the 4-yard line right before the end of the first half, but an attempted field goal was blocked by the Bears.
“A couple plays that stick out to me are the missed field goals in the first half,” Tenyer said. “If we get one of those it would have been a completely different game. Honestly, we should have got both.”
MSU’s quarterback Logan Johnson, a freshman starting in his first collegiate game, went 33 of 53 passing for 271 yards. He was also the Eagles’ leading rusher with 61 yards.
“Logan had some nervous in the early going, and you can tell by his throws and his demeanor in the pocket,” Tenyer said. “But I thought he settled in as the game went along. I felt like we were going to run the ball a little better going into the game. I didn’t anticipate throwing it 53 times.”
Pikeville opened up the second half with a seven play, 72-yard drive capped off by a Marquis Terrell 11-yard touchdown run.
Terrell rushed for 100 yards on 16 carries, including a string of plays where he carried the ball six consecutive times.
Pikeville head coach Dudley Hilton said the TD run was impressive.
“I thought that was a big play,” Hilton said. “Marquis messed his leg up and we had to redshirt him last year. It’s no surprise to us and we knew he could play.”
Trailing by a touchdown, Morehead got on the board late in the third quarter with a Luke Boyd 21-yard field goal.
The Eagles then took the lead early in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard run by Rob Harden that Tenyer was surprised got anywhere.
He said he audibled into a play that ran right into a Pikeville blitz. Harden was able to break some tackles and get into the end zone.
“We thought the blitz was coming from the other side,” Tenyer said. “(Harden) made a nice cut and we had some good downfield blocking from our freshman receiver Mason Rutherford.”
In a fourth-quarter play that looked like Pikeville jumped offsides, Johnson took a snap and fired the ball downfield thinking it was a free play.
The pass was intercepted and no offsides penalty was called, giving Pikeville the ball and a chance to take the lead.
“It will be interesting to see,” Tenyer said. “I thought they were in the neutral zone and didn’t get back. It was also a miscommunication between Logan and the receiver.”
Pikeville followed the interception with an eight-play, 72-yard drive that was capped off by a Seth Millar 23-yard run.
Millar was the game’s leading rusher with 108 yards on 13 carries.
The win over Morehead State, a Division I Football Championship Series team, is the largest level opponent Pikeville has beaten, according to school officials.
For Hilton, it just means his team is 1-0 to start the season.
“This is my third year here and we’ve lost some heartbreakers,” Hilton said. “I just finally think we put it together and the kids played hard. We played a heck of a defense tonight and we scored tonight when we had to.”