To start off their inaugural C-USA game, the Blue Raiders received the ball after the Owls of Florida Atlantic won the toss and deferred to the second half. MT wasted no time getting things going as they marched right down the field inside FAU territory, but things stalled out at the 36-yard line and MT was forced to punt.
The first score of the game would come on MT's second possession when RB Jordan Parker capped off a 10-play, 72-yard drive with his fourth touchdown of the season, a scamper from 10 yards out. The score would give the Blue Raiders the early 7-0 lead.
MT got the ball right back after the Owls KR Reggie Brown fumbled the ensuing kickoff. That turnover gave the Blue Raiders excellent field position inside the redzone. At that point, MT tried to confuse the Owl defense by sending out backup QB Austin Grammer into the game. Known for running the read-option, MT decided to let Grammer sling the ball after three straight runs, but it would cost them as he threw a pick in the endzone, ending the drive with a "0" on the scoreboard for their efforts.
Turnovers and QB mistakes would continue to plague the Blue Raider offense in the second quarter. This time, QB Logan Kilgore throw his fifth interception of the season - one less than he threw all of last season - after Damian Parms snagged the ill-advised pass and returned it inside the MT 10-yard line. FAU would take full advantage of this turnover, however, and tied the game up on an 8-yard TD run by QB Jaquez Johnson.
After a few failed drives by both teams, MT RB Reggie Whatley made his name known by showcasing his speed on a 15-yard TD to put Middle Tennessee back on top, 14-7. That score would remain the same heading into halftime after FAU fumbled inside the redzone. The Blue Raiders would kneel it out from there.
The Owls received the ball to start the second half and, unlike the first half, came out looking to establish the run and bulldoze right through the Blue Raider defense. They would do just that, running the ball 10 times on an 11-play drive. Johnson finished things off by rushing for his second TD of the day, a 7-yard scramble, to tie things up at 14 all.
The Blue Raiders would strike next after a forced fumble by LB Christian Henry put MT at the FAU 36-yard line. Kilgore and the offense jumped on this opportunity as he connected on a 2-yard TD pass to FB Corey Carmichael - his first TD of his career. That put the Blue Raiders up 21-14, but the fun was just beginning.
The Owls responded with a lengthy drive of their own as Johnson continued to have a field day against the Blue Raider defense, rushing the ball in for the score for the third time in the game, this one came from three yards out, tying the game up, once again, at 21 all.
MT started off the fourth quarter with the ball and got things going right away. Reggie Whatley struck again, capping off an 11-play, 75-yard drive with a 19-yard breakaway to paydirt to break the tie and give MT the 28-21 lead. But that was just the start of what turned out to be an incredibly entertaining quarter.
After a couple of rare stops by both teams, the Owls put together a clutch scoring drive, but this time Johnson would go to the air where he connected with WR Daniel McKinney for a 7-yard score, and alas the game was tied up at 28 apiece. The TD pass by Johnson marked his fourth score of the day.
Following a Blue Raider punt, the next Owl drive proved to be a big one, but not for the Owls as Blue Raider DB Jared Singletary picked off Johnson as the Owls were moving the ball deep into MT territory. On the very next play, Reggie Whatley exploded through a hole and took the ball 64-yards to the house for his third TD of the day. That gave the Blue Raiders the lead at 35-28 with 1:32 left in the clock.
The game would not end there, however, as the Owls showed incredible heart by moving the ball right down the field. With their backs against the wall on fourth-and-10 from the MT 21-yard line, and with just 0:09 left on the clock, FAU dug deep and found some luck, literally, as Johnson connected with WR Lucky Whitehead for a 21-yard game-tying TD that sent things into overtime.
The Blue Raiders got the ball first in the OT session and did not waste any time as Kilgore connected with WR Kyle Griswould on a 19-yard TD to give MT the 42-35 lead. This forced the Owls hand and to answer, but it was the Blue Raider defense that stepped up when it mattered most as S Kevin Byard picked Johnson off in the endzone on fourth and goal for the Owls, ending the game and securing MT's third win of the season in the process.
FAU led the way in total yards with 503 on the day compared to MT's 446. The Owls dominated in pass yards, 321-to-150, but the Blue Raiders outran the Owls by a 296-to-182. MT won the turnover battle by forcing five Owl turnovers compared to the two that they surrendered. FAU led in time of possession with a 32:11-to-27:49 margin.
QB Logan Kilgore - 13-of-23 for 150 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
RB Reggie Whatley - 10 carries for 154 yards (15.4 ypg) and three touchdowns.
RB Jordan Parker - 28 carries for 115 yards and one touchdown.
WR Tavarres Jefferson - five receptions for 66 yards.
LB T.T. Barber - 14 total tackles, including nine of the solo variety.
DE Dearco Nolan - four total tackles including three sacks and two forced fumbles.
LB Christian Henry - 10 total tackles, including nine of the solo variety, and one forced fumble.