The University of Central Arkansas Bears got some motivational octane from some television viewing in the hours prior to Saturday night’s game against Murray State, an Ohio Valley Conference opponent, at Murray, Ky.
“We’re sitting around the hotel that afternoon watching other games on television while getting ready for our game,” UCA coach Steve Campbell said at Monday’s Bearbacker luncheon. “Last year, Murray State went 4-4 in the OVC, We had watched last year’s video against Eastern Kentucky and now we see Eastern Kentucky getting after Kentucky pretty good. Then, across the bottom of the screen I see UT-Martin 16, Ole Miss 7. We had watched UT Martin quite a bit. Then, I flipped the channel and I watched Jacksonville State getting after Georgia Tech pretty good and Murray State had played Jacksonville State close last year.
“After watching those OVC teams, we challenged our guys that this (Murray State) was a really good football team and we need to come out of the gates fast.”
The Bears did, building a 31-6 halftime lead on the way to a dominating, 41-13 victory.
Helping set that fast tone was defensive end/outside linebacker Chris Chambers, who was named Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Week for his efforts.
Chambers had a team-high eight solo tackles, which included three tackles for loss and a sack. He also forced a first-quarter MSU fumble on the sack deep in Racers’ territory that set up UCA’s first touchdown.
UCA’s defense held MSU to just 80 total yards in the first half and 276 yards for the game.
“Even though he wasn’t on the preseason all-conference team, I’ve thought that Chambers was one of the best players in the conference,” Campbell said. “He put pressure on their quarterback all day.
“And our secondary kept everything in front of it. If you can make a team take it a long way, its chances of scoring decrease dramatically.”
He said quarterback Hayden Hildebrand, who completed 19 of 25 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns, had another efficient game.
“They (the Racers) focused their defense inside and it made it tough sledding running the ball up the middle, more difficult inside than it was against Kansas State,” Campbell said.
Ten different receivers caught passes with Jakari Dillard, Brandon Myers and Joe Hampton catching their first TD passes for the Bears. Veteran Brandon Cox had 102 yards in receptions.
“We had a lot of guys contributing,” Campbell said. “Young receivers like Mitchell Perkinson and Dwayne Smith had some nice catches.”
With the game in control early, Campbell and his staff substituted freely.
“We played everybody we wanted to play,” he said.
Injuries: Wide receiver Roman Gordon was held out of the game and should be ready for Southeastern Louisiana on Saturday. Place-kicker Matt Cummins suffered a pulled muscle but should be ready for Saturday.
Hayden Ray (freshman from Bryant) came in and kicked an extra point, then later I decided to let the young guy do it (36-yard field goal). He didn’t blink. Matt did a tremendous job on kickoffs, kicking it in the end zone, where they get it on the 25. Hayden kicked two shorter, but we ended up tackling them on the 22 and 23 and actually gained field position by not kicking it into the end zone.”
Cooper: Running back Jarvis Cooper was among seven different backs to carry the ball.
“Jarvis is also a really good special teams player,” said Campbell. “He can catch the ball on a short kick but he’s also big enough to block in the middle. He’s too valuable not to use on special teams.”
White Out: Saturday 7:15 p.m. game is “White Out Night” at Estes Stadium. UCA fans are asked to wear white shirts or tops.