After a bad loss to start the 2012 season, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders were in desperate need of a win. They needed it for their fans and, more importantly, themselves. MT had four straight victories against the Florida Atlantic Owls going in to Saturday and this game was the perfect time for the Blue Raiders to get their first victory of the 2012 season.
The game started out rough for both teams. Neither team was able to score in the first quarter and it looked like this game was going to be a nail biter. The Blue Raiders, after suffering two setbacks in the red zone by way of fumbles, were finally able to strike first when QB Logan Kilgore connected with WR Anthony Amos for a 38 yard touchdown strike. Nothing changed from there and MT went into the half up 7-0.
Whatever head coach Rick Stockstill and his staff said to the team during the break must have worked because the Blue Raiders took the game over in the second half. MT outscored FAU 17-3 in the third quarter and would only allow the Owls to score two more time in the game. The Blue Raiders went on to win the game 31-17.
The win gives MT their first win of the season and first conference win of the year, while snapping a seven game losing streak in the process. The Blue Raiders record now stands at 1-1 (1-0 SBC). After a terrible start to the season, MT fans left the FAU game with a slightly brighter outlook on the 2012 season. Fans are hoping these outlooks come true.
The Blue Raider offense looked great after the first quarter. MT was able to move the ball efficiently - especially on the ground. The Blue Raiders had two 100-yard rushers for the first time in a game since 2009 as backs Jordan Parker and Drayton Calhoun each eclipsed. MT gained 480 total yards with 302 of those coming from the rushing attack. The offense showed just how dangerous they could be against the Owls. Coach Rick Stockstill commented on the play of his running backs after the game.
"He [Jordan Parker] was better this week," Stockstill said. "He [Parker] was a lot better in the passing game. Drayton played well, too. I'm very proud of all our running backs. They played really well except for those two turnovers. They're getting better, and that's good to see."
QB Logan Kilgore had one of his most efficient performances as a Blue Raider. The offensive line gave him all the time he needed in order to make plays, and Kilgore made the most of his chances. Adding to Kilgore's impressive game is the fact that he did not throw an interception in the game.
On the end of four of those pass completions was senior WR Anthony Amos, who had a career night with 102 yards and a pair of touchdown catches. Amos has unquestionably become Kilgore's favorite target, and the two are certainly making waves for the offense.
On the other side of the ball, the Blue Raider defense gave Florida Atlantic all they could handle and then some. The defense did not allow the Owls to score a touchdown until the fourth quarter and only allowed 96 rushing yards in the game. Along with tallying three sacks on the night, the Blue Raiders also forced two turnovers.
In sharp contrast to week one, the Blue Raider defense stayed off the field for the majority of this contest. FAU was 5 of 11 on third down conversions and only possessed the ball for 28:03 of the entire game. The Blue Raider defense did not allow the Owls offense to get any consistent momentum until late in the game and forced them to fight for every yard they got.
LB Rod Blunt played a big role for the Blue Raiders, registering a team-high 12 tackles in the contest. He spoke about the defense wanting to change the perception that people had of his unit.
"At first we just had to gather ourselves to figure out what we needed to do to execute, and then we just started making plays," Blunt said following the game. "Last week was a big disappointment on the defensive side and we had to change the perception of our defense. We also wanted to make sure our offense knew we had their back. And we were able to do that tonight."
The win for MT was a total team effort. The offense, defense, and special teams did what was expected of them. The Blue Raiders controlled every aspect of the game and did not allow Florida Atlantic to capitalize on any of their mistakes. These efforts will have to be replicated next Saturday, when the Blue Raiders travel to Memphis to take on the Tigers.
MT gained 480 total yards on the night - 178 yards came through the air while the remaining 302 came on the ground.
The Blue Raiders got 24 first downs in the game and were 6 of 13 on third down conversions. MT was tacked with seven penalties for 61 yards and turned the ball over two times.
The Blue Raiders also forced two turnovers themselves and controlled the time of possession with 31:57 for the entire game.
QB Logan Kilgore was 10-14 through the air for 178 yards and two touchdowns. Freshmen RB Jordan Parker ran for 117 yards on 17 carries while RB Drayton Calhoun ran for 104 yards on 14 carries with one touchdown.
FAU gained 356 total yards on the evening - 260 yards came from the air while 96 yards came from the running game. The Owls got 19 first downs in the game but struggled on third down, only converting 5 of 11 chances in the game. Florida Atlantic received two penalties for 26 yards and turned the ball over two times. The Owls lost the time of possession battle as well, holding possession for 28:03 the entire game.
QB Graham Wilbert was 25-32 for 260 yards and two touchdowns. RB Damian Fortner had 13 carries for 42 yards while RB Jonathan Wallace had four carries for 27 yards in the game.