Coming into the game against North Texas, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders had lost the previous two meetings in not so competitive fashion. This year, the Blue Raiders had something to prove after getting blown out by Mississippi State and the Mean Green were the unlucky team that had to face the Blue Raider wrath.
QB Logan Kilgore had a career day, throwing for 349 yards whilst completing 20 of 30 pass attempts with three touchdowns. Kilgore also had an impressive 45-yard scamper for a score.
From the opening whistle, this game was all about the Blue Raider offense. MT scored three times in the first quarter and put up another score in the second quarter. The Blue Raider defense kept the Mean Green out of the red zone the entire first half. And carried a 24-0 lead on North Texas heading into the break.
Coming out of halftime, MT's offense looked like it would not slow down after scoring on its first drive, but the Blue Raiders let off the gas from there and would only score one more time. Although UNT's offense got things going, the first half deficit was too much for them to overcome, as the Blue Raiders would go on to win 38-21.
MT latest wins gives them a 5-3 (3-1 SBC) record and puts the Blue Raiders in a three-team tie for second place in the Sun Belt Conference. This sets up an interesting Thursday night game against Western Kentucky. MT fans are hoping to see some consistency out of this team from here out, and a win over rival WKU would go a long way in forming this team's identity.
The Blue Raider offense exploded in this game - for three quarters at least. The majority of the yards for the Blue Raider offense came through the air. A telling factor of the game was that the offense did not turn the ball over in the game and the early lead gave the defense a chance to play aggressively and not with their backs up against the wall.
Kilgore has shown major growth this season. For the second time this season, Kilgore did not throw an interception and he seems to be confident within himself and with his receivers around him. Also, Kilgore is becoming so comfortable within the offense that it appears that he is no longer trying to force anything and is allowing the game to come to him. The Mean Green got to see up close just how improved Kilgore is from last season.
The defense for the Blue Raiders played outstanding in this contest. They refused to let North Texas anywhere near the red zone for the entire first half. MT forced four turnovers and three of those came in the form of interceptions. The MT defense made the Mean Green offense fight for every yard they got.
DB Jajuan Harley paced the defense with an impressive performance. The Florida State transfer netted 14 tackles and also hauled in an interception. DL O'Shae Bridges and LB Leighton Gasque were both able to get to UNT QB Derek Thompson and get him to the ground - an impressive feat considering UNT had only allowed three sacks all season.
Although the defense did give up 432 yards of total offense, they still played an amazing game. After what RB Lance Dunbar did to the Blue Raider defense last year, they came into this game with a lot to prove. MT's defense did give up three touchdowns to a very balance UNT offense, but also got a lot of younger players some decent playing time in mop-up duty.
Although MT dominated the game early, the stat sheet shows a different story. The Blue Raiders had 20 first downs and a total of 488 yards in the game. The majority of the yards - 349 - came through the air while the remaining 139 yards came on the ground. MT did not turn the ball over in the game and held the ball for 27:14 the entire game.
The Blue Raiders had a slew of leaders in the win against North Texas. The passing leader was obviously Kilgore. As previously mentioned, the junior signal caller completed 20 of 30 pass attempts for 349 yards and three TD's. The rushing leader for MT was RB Jordan Parker. Parker had 55 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown in the game. As for receivers, Kyle Griswould had three receptions for 140 yards and two touchdowns while Anthony Amos continued to look impressive, hauling in eight balls for 121 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Despite the loss, UNT had some good stats. The Mean Green had 23 first downs and 432 total yards in the game. The majority of North Texas yards - 221 - came through the air, while the remaining 211 yards came from the rushing game. UNT turned the ball over four times but managed to hold on to the ball for 32:46 of the entire game.
There were three stats leaders for the Mean Green. QB Derek Thompson led in the passing game, completing 17 of 29 attempts for 221 yards with one touchdown and three interceptions. The rushing leader for UNT was RB Antoinne Jimmerson, who ran for 85 yards on 16 carries and scored two touchdowns. WR Darnell Smith led the Mean Green in receiving, hauling in two passes for 76 yards.