By Joe Shivak
Photos by Matt O’Donnell
Murfreesboro, TN ( 9/14/13 )…….. Middle Tennessee used a late 4th quarter rally to secure a come from behind win over their in state rival Memphis Tigers 17-15 in football action at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium. The Blue Raiders are now 2-1 with this second straight home field win in front of 23,992 fans.
Middle Tennessee rallied with only 3:31 left in the game and down by 1 point. The Blue Raiders moved 42 yards in 8 plays to allow Cody Clark to make a field goal from the 40 yard line.
The Blue Raiders defense then stepped up and held Memphis outside of the scoring zone by twice sacking QB Paxton Lynch.
The overall game statstics mirrored the close score with Memphis having 350 total offense yards compared to 284 for Middle. The big difference came in penalties and turnovers. Memphis was flagged 15 times for a total of 145 yards. Middle only had 3 penalties for 30 yards.
The most costly Memphis penalty and their 9th of the game came while down 14-3, when an 81 yard run down to the Middle 11 yard line was returned due to an illegal block to the back. On the very next play, Memphis was called for holding and then punted the ball away on 4th down. Memphis mistakes continued to haunt them for the rest of the game.
The Blue Raiders scored on their second possession when Logan Kilgore found Kyle Griswould open for a 7 yard TD pass. The score was confirmed after review as it first appeared that Griswould was taken out of bounds before crossing the goal line. Cody Clark added the extra point giving Middle a 7-0 lead.
The scoring drive consumed 13 plays, going 92 yards in 5:32. It was the longest scoring drive of this season.
Memphis would not get on the scoreboard until the second quarter when Jake Elliot made a field goal from the 21 yard line, making the score 7-3 in favor of the Blue Raiders.
It looked like the home team would score again, but Clark’s 33 yard field goal attempt went wide left.
TT Barber intercepted a Paxton pass and a personal foul against Memphis added additional yardage giving the Blue Raiders the ball at the 8 yard line. Parker would rush for the TD from the 1 yard line, giving Middle a 14-3 lead.
Memphis added a 41 yard field goal by Jake Elliot closing the score to 14-6 with just :05 left in the first half.
The Tigers were the first team to score in the 3rd period, with an Elliot 27 yard field goal, as Memphis moves within 5 points, 14-9. The 3rd quarter would end without any further scoring.
Paxton would complete a one yard pass to Alan Cross to give Memphis their first lead of the game, 15-14.
Kilgore would miss on three straight passes giving Memphis the ball back with 12:47 left. The Tigers would have to punt on their next two possessions.
With 3:31 left in the game, Middle would start their go ahead drive. A Kilgore to Jefferson pass for 25 yards aided the Blue Raiders in the march down the field. With 3rd and 7 at the 22 yard line, Kilgore missed on a pass to Devin Clarke. Cody Clarke would come in however and make the game winning 40 yard field goal.
With only 1:49 left on the game clock, Memphis had little time to mount an offensive. Time would run out for them as Paxton was sacked for a 10 yard loss.
Two of the last three UM vs. MT games have been decided by 7 points or less.
On September 21st, Middle travels to FAU for their first ever Conference-USA game.