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September 16, 2013Tweet Follow @GoMiddle Follow @Derrick_Griggs
The Blue Raiders won the toss and elected to defer to the second half while the Tigers wisely chose to receive to start the game off. Neither team could get anything going on offense in the opening minutes, but MT would get some momentum their second time out as QB Logan Kilgore executed a nice drive, eventually capping it off by connecting with WR Kyle Griswould on a 7-yard TD pass. Griswould had to dive to reach the pylon and after an official review, the play would be ruled a TD, giving the Blue Raiders the early 7-0 lead.
The Tigers would look to respond right away with a score of their own. UM marched down field thanks in large part to a 31-yard run by RB Marquis Warford. The drive, however, would come to a halt as DB Kenneth Gilstrap intercepted UM QB Paxton Lynch at the 1-yard line, putting a cap on the first quarter. The pick was Gilstrap's first of the season and third overall.
Following the interception, MT failed to do anything of note and was forced to punt the ball back to the Tigers. In return, UM got good field position for their following drive but the Blue Raider defense held tough in the redzone and forced the Tigers to settle for a 21-yard FG, cutting the Middle Tennessee lead to 7-3.
The Blue Raiders looked to extend their lead on the following drive, once again marching down field with a mix of run and pass. The drive, however, would stall out, forcing MT to settle for a FG attempt. Cody Clark missed the 33-yard attempt to the left, but upon replay, it appeared as if the kick was actually good. Nonetheless, head coach Rick Stockstill opted against challenging the play, letting the Tigers take over possession.
Three plays later, the Blue Raider defense gave the offense another chance to put points on the board when sophomore LB T.T. Barber picked off Lynch's pass and returned it to the 8-yard line. The offense would take advantage by punching the ball in on a 1-yard TD run by RB Jordan Parker, giving Middle Tennessee a 14-3 lead.
The next Blue Raider drive was disappointing as Kilgore threw his fourth interception of the season, this one was badly thrown into tight coverage UM DB Bakari Hollier snatched the ball and returned it 33 yards to the Middle Tennessee 45-yard line. Memphis would take advantage of the turnover, kicking a 41-yard FG with seconds remaining to make the halftime score 14-6 in favor of the Blue Raiders.
Middle Tennessee would get the ball to start the second half, but failed to get anything going and were forced to punt the ball - a recurring theme for the offense in the second half. The Tigers cleaned up their penalties and began chipping away at the Blue Raider lead, marching down field once again. However, for the third time, the Tigers stalled and were forced to settle for a 27-yard FG, cutting the lead to 14-9.
Both teams would struggle to get any offense the rest of the third quarter and, heading into the fourth quarter, the score remained the same.
After a stagnant third quarter, Memphis would not waste anytime in the fourth quarter as Lynch connected with TE Alan Cross on a 1-yard TD pass, giving UM the lead for the first time in the game.
Neither team could manage much production until late in the game when MT WR Tavarres Jefferson made an unbelievable catch up the seam for a 25-yard gain, putting MT into field goal range.
With the game on the line, Cody Clark was looking to redeem himself from his earlier miss. With ice in his veins, the young kicker did just that, nailing the FG right down the middle to give the Blue Raiders a 17-15 lead with 1:49 left on the clock.
Memphis still had a chance to win the game, making as far as the MT 36-yard line, but the Blue Raider defense would ramp up their pressure, sacking Lynch two plays in a row - the last of which, courtesy of DB Jared Singletary, sealed the victory up for the Blue Raiders to move them to 2-1 (0-0) on the season while the Tigers fell to 0-2 (0-0).
Memphis would lead the game in total yards with 350 to MT's 284. While the Blue Raiders led in passing yards by a 224-to-170 margin, the Tigers would dominate on the ground, outrunning the Blue Raiders 180-to-60 - MT's lowest total of the season.
Discipline was a key factor in this game. The Blue Raiders had just three penalties for 30 yards while Memphis accumulated an astounding 15 penalties for 145 yards. MT led in the turnover department, notching two on the game to UM's one. Due to the Blue Raiders inefficiency on offense, Memphis dominated in time of possession, 34:41 to 25:19.
QB Logan Kilgore - 22-of-36 for 224 yards with one TD and one INT.
RB Jordan Parker - 14 carries for 55 yards and one TD.
WR Tavarres Jefferson - team-high seven catches for 78 yards.
LB T.T. Barber - 12 total tackles with one sack, one TFL, one FF and one INT.
CB Kenneth Gilstrap - eight total tackles with one INT.
CB Jared Singletary - six total tackles with two sacks.
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