BLUE RAIDERS WIN SEASON OPENER
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Murfreesboro, TN ( 8/29/13)………..Floyd Stadium was abuzz with excitement about the Conference-USA debut of the MTSU football team. Fans were not disappointed as in it’s 99th year of football, the Blue Raiders defeated Western Carolina, 45-24 in front of a crowd of over 20,000.
Middle Tennessee used a steady dose of Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley on the ground. Parker gained a carreer high 156 yards, scoring one touchdown while Whatley gained 71 yards, scoring 2 TD’s.
The offense combined for a total 475 yards compared to to 371 for Western Carolina.
Quarterback Logan Kilgore completed 12 out of 18 passing attempts for 144 yards and 1 touchdown.
Middle’s defense held the Catamounts to only one set of downs in their first possession. Western’s QB Eddie Sullivan was stopped for no gain on 1st down. He then threw a 3 yard pass to Gary Lewis but on 3rd down Sullivan’s pass to C.J. Goodman fell incomplete. Clark Sechrest would come on to punt on 4th down. The Catamount’s possession lasted only 3 plays and took only 1:18 seconds off the clock.
Carolina’s punt went only 16 yards, giving Middle excellant field position at the Western 40 yard line. Three straight rushes by Parker gave the Blue Raiders a first down at the Western 25 yard line. Whatley’s 6 yard run moved the ball to the 19. Kilgore then found Kyle Griswould at the 12 yard line. But things soon went bad for Middle as Whatley would loose 2 yards back to the 14. On second down, Kilgore’s pass to Terry Pettis fell incomplete. Kilgore was then sacked for a 10 yard loss and his fumble was recovered by Parker. Cody Clark’s 41 yard field goal attempt went wide left. Middle would only gain a total of 16 net yards on 9 plays and used up slightly over 4:00 minutes of the clock.
Western Carolina’s offense showed some spark as Troy Mitchell entered the game as their QB and rushed for 20 yards on 1st down. Mitchell would try his first pass then which was incomplete but Middle’s T.T. Barber was called for a roughing the passer penatly moving the ball to the Blue Raider’s 35 yard line. Mitchell would carry the ball on the next two downs for a total of 5 yards. Jeff Moore caught a 3 yard pass from Mitchell leaving them 4th and 2 yards on Middle’s 27. Carolina decided to go for it but Middle’s Shaquille Huff sacked Mitchell for a 6 yard loss.
Middle took over on downs at their 33 yard line. They would use a combination of passes and rushed to move the ball down to Western’s 10 yard line. Kilgore would find tight end Jacob Corbaley for his first career TD catch and a Blue Raider 14-0 lead.
Carolina’s next possesion lasted only 2 plays as Mitchell’s pass was picked off by Stephen Roberts at their own 20 yard line. Middle would fail to score though as Kilgore’s 4th and 7 pass to Griswould at the 3 yard line would fall incomplete.
The Blue Raider defense would rally and hold Western to only 1 set of downs. Clark Sechrest would get off a 41 yard punt and Griswould would return it 57 yards for a TD. Middle now leads 21-0.
Carolina would get the ball with only 1:05 left in the 1st. They would keep the ball for only 5 plays moving it 25 yards before having to punt it away yet again.
Middle needed only 6 plays to move 89 yards when Devin Clarke caught a 31 yard Kilgore pass and Pratcher scored on a 5 yard run. Middle is now ahead 28-0.
Western’s offense stalls once again, gaining only one first down before another Sechrest punt.
Parker would fumble on first down giving the ball right to the Catamounts on the 11 yard line. Carolina would gain 7 yards on 2 rushes but a Mitchell incomplete pass would bring up 4th down. Richard Sigmon’s 21 yard field goal would give Western their first score.
Cody Clark would make good on a 30 yard field goal and Middle now leads 31-3.
Mitchell would score Carolina’s first TD with a 35 yard pass to Kamorris Benson. Mitchell then made good on a 2 point attempt. The score is 31-11.
The Blue Raiders would fumble the kickoff giving Carolina another scoring opportunity. Mitchell didn’t waste any time as he fould Terryon Robinson on a 35 yard scoring pass.
Kilgore took a hard hit on a rushing play after gaining 10 yards. He was taken out of the game and replaced by Austin Grammer.
The Blue Raiders put together a 13 play, 73 yard drive taking 4:44 off the clock. Grammer scored on a 10 yard rush giving MIddle a 38-18 lead.
Chris Sharpe picked off a Sullivan pass in the endzone, turning back a Carolina score. The quarter would end with a 20 point Middle margin.
William Pratcher would score Middle’s only points of the 4th quarter with a 38 yard TD run with 8:42 left to play. The scoreboard read 45-18.
Western put together a 14 play, 77 yard drive to score their final points. The extra point try was missed leaving the score at 45-24.
Middle would then keep the ball on the ground and run out the time clock.
The Blue Raiders travel to North Carolina on September 7th to take on the Tar Heels.
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