Racers’ coaches and players have local ties

Anthony Maggio

Despite coming from the Ohio Valley Conference, this weekend will mark a homecoming of sorts for three members of Murray State’s football team.

The Racers play Minnesota on Saturday at the Metrodome.

Head coach Joe Pannunzio was a special teams/tight ends coach at Minnesota from 1992-94 under former head coach Jim Wacker.

Pannunzio has also spent time at other Division I schools including Ole Miss, Auburn, and Kansas.

Minnesota coach Glen Mason actually interviewed Pannunzio for a position on his staff when Mason took the head coaching job at Kansas, but according to Mason, “things didn’t work out.”

Murray State assistant coach John Lewis also has Minnesota ties. Lewis graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1994 after playing under coach Wacker.

Lewis set a Gophers record for kick return yardage in a game by gaining 223 yards against San Jose State in 1992. The record stood until 1997 when Tutu Atwell picked up 284 return yards against Ohio State.

Also coming home to Minnesota is junior wide receiver Travis Lueck, a native of East Grand Forks. Lueck is slated to start against the Gophers.

Murray State coming to play

Don’t be fooled, Murray State isn’t coming to Minnesota on a sightseeing trip. The Racers expect a challenge, but hope to compete with the Gophers.

“My athletic director is coming up there to get a paycheck,” Pannunzio said. “But we’re coming up there to try to win a football game.

“Stranger things have happened. There has been bigger upsets this year, and maybe you catch them at the right time and get lucky and get a win.”

Field goal woes continue

Place-kicker Dan Nystrom missed another field goal on Saturday, dropping his mark to 4-of-10 on the season.

“Our kicking game has got to remain a positive for us to be successful,” Mason said. “We have to make sure we don’t have breakdowns and hopefully gain an edge in that area.”

Nystrom has been successful on PAT’s, connecting on all 18 attempts this season.

Youth Sports Day on Saturday

Children 14 and under sporting youth team uniforms will be admitted to the Murray State game for $5. Parents or guardians accompanying children can purchase tickets for $10. A ceremony will be held at half time honoring youth sport activities, and children in attendance will be admitted onto the field after the game.

Paterno finally ties the record

After starting the season 0-4, Penn State pulled an upset win at Northwestern on Saturday, giving coach Joe Paterno 323 career victories.

The triumph tied Paterno with Paul “Bear” Bryant as winningest coach in Division 1-A history.

The Lions host Ohio State on Saturday, giving Paterno a chance to break the record at Beaver Stadium.

Paterno chuckled at the thought of being carried off the field by his players after his next win.

“I think that’s the worst trick in the world getting carried off the field,” Paterno said. “I’m not quite sure whether they’re going to drop me or not.”

Paterno has been at the helm for 36 years at Penn State and has a career record of 323-94-3.

Hawkeye tackles honors

Iowa defensive back Bob Sanders was named National Defensive Player of the Week by the Football Writers Association of America after his performance against Indiana.

Sanders posted a career-best 25 tackles – 14 unassisted – versus the Hoosiers. His totals were good for the fourth highest single-game tackle total in Iowa history, and the best single game performance in the Big Ten this season.