MOREHEAD There were fewer than 20 basic plays in Morehead State's offensibe game plan Saturday.
They were enough.
Graduate quarterback Mark Pappas threw for 286 yards and five touchdowns in the Eagles' 62-9 win over Point University at Jayne Stadium.
“We were productive early in the game,” Morehead State coach Rob Tenyer said. “We didn't have to run a lot of different things; probably, if I had to say, we maybe ran 15, 18 plays offensively.”
The 62 points and 53-point victory margin were the Eagles’ most since a 67-0 shutout of Kentucky Christian in 2011. The offense racked up 508 yards on 81 plays, a 6.3 average per snap, and Pappas and backup Grady Cramer completed passes to 15 receivers.
BJ Byrd was Pappas's favorite target – nine catches for 102 yards and two scores.
And the defense? Stingy and stifling: it had three sacks and two interceptions, safety Giovanni Herrera returned an interception 85 yards for a touchdown and James Louis recovered a fumble in the end zone for another score.
Defensive end Vaughn Taylor Jr.'s six tackles for loss set a school record, and the Eagles held Point (0-2) to just 28 net yards rushing and 165 passing.
From the opening snap, Morehead State (1-1) – or more specifically Pappas – saw a flaw in the Skyhawks' defense: a soft Cover-4, in which the defensive backs laid off Eagle receivers or gave them the middle of the field.
“We kind of knew their corners like to play in a soft zone,” Pappas said. “And I personally felt like their outside linebackers were trying to help in the run a little too much, so we wanted to definitely expose that and make them come up.”
It only took Pappas and Byrd a little less than five minutes to connect for two first-quarter touchdowns: a 20-yarder with 11:47 left in the first quarter and an 11-yarder with 7:04 remaining.
Pappas followed that with an 18-yarder to Issiah Aguero and 21-yarder to Michael Armour.
“No. 1, for me, we've got to get better putting pressure on the quarterback,” Point head coach Julius Dixon said. “Quarterback can't have all day to sit back there and throw it.”
Herrera's 85-yard interception return for a touchdown and Andrew Foster's 37-yard field goal gave the Eagles a 38-0 halftime lead. Dixon said the interception was the result of not being lined up properly, which forced Skyhawks quarterback Payton Allen into a bad read.
“If we score right there, it's 28-7, and we get the ball starting the third quarter,” Dixon said.
Herrera said the receiver he was supposed to watch went away from him.
“I didn't really have a responsibility, so I became a free player,” Herrera said. “And I saw (Allen) roll out, and I kind of played his eyes; I think someone might have tipped it a little bit.”
In the third quarter, the Eagles' Nate Adebayo scored from a yard out, Louis recovered the fumble for a touchdown and Pappas found DeVonte Adams from eight yards out.
Point avoided the shutout because Logan Flesher booted a 27-yard field goal with 5:27 left in the game. After Foster's 21-yard field goal a little more than three minutes later, the Skyhawks finished the scoring when Payton Allen connected with Sensir Carnes on a 15-yard touchdown pass.
“We've got to take those moments to where we execute, all 11 at a time, doing what we're supposed to do,” Dixon said.
Morehead State won't be taking the last train to Clarksville, but the Eagles will head to Tennessee to take on Austin Peay on Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 3 p.m.
“We have work to do still,” Herrera said. “We're looking forward to that game.”
POINT UNIV. 0 0 0 9 – 9
MOREHEAD ST. 21 17 21 3 – 62
MSU-BJ Byrd 20 pass from Mark Pappas (Andrew Foster kick), 11:47
MSU-Byrd 11 pass from Pappas (Foster kick), 7:04
MSU-Issiah Aguero 11 pass from Pappas (Foster kick), 1:46
MSU-Michael Armour 21 pass from Pappas (Foster kick), 3:56
MSU-Giovanni Herrera 85 interception return (Foster kick), 1:23
MSU-Foster 37 field goal, 0:00
MSU-Nate Adebayo 1 run (Foster kick), 12:58
MSU-James Louis fumble recovery in end zone (Foster kick), 10:59
MSU-DeVonte Adams 8 pass from Pappas (Foster kick), 3:43
PU-Logan Flesher 27 field goal, 5:27
MSU-Foster 31 field goal, 2:15
PU-Sensir Carnes 15 pass from Payton Allen (kick blocked), 1:54
First downs 10 34
Rushes-yards 29-28 29-149
Comp-Att-Int 13-28-2 33-52-1
Passing yards 165 359
Fumbles-lost 1-1 0-0
Punts-Avg. 7-35.9 1-45
Penalties-yards 13-129 3-35
Point U. rushing: Eatmon 6-22, Addo-Nobles 5-12, Carnes 5-11, Chaisson 2-2, Robinson 2-2, Henderson 1-(minus-1), White 2-(minus-3), Allen 5-(minus-5). Team 1-(minus-12).
Morehead State rushing: Louis 4-45, Stoudemire 6-27, Aguero 5-24, Russell 5-19, Adebayo 3-15, Harris 2-14, Pappas 1-6, Upp 1-4, Cramer 2-(minus-4).
Point U. passing: White 6-15-79, Allen 7-13-86.
Morehead State passing: Pappas 29-45-286, Cramer 4-7-73.
Point U. receiving: Bartley 5-67, Henderson 3-32, Marien 2-42, Carnes 1-15, Marsh 1-5, Teasley 1-4.