Back on track: Blue Raiders kick off conference play with victory over FAU
Many MT football fans were worried about whether the 2012 Doak Walker watch list running back, Benny Cunningham, would make an appearance on the field in the Blue Raiders’ contest against Florida Atlantic University.
It would turn out they would not need him Saturday night against the Owls.
MT (1-1, 1-0 Sun Belt) opened up its 2012 Sun Belt conference schedule on a high note, defeating FAU (1-1, 0-1 Sun Belt) by a score of 31-17, behind the outstanding play of their backfield and a strong performance by linebacker Roderic Blunt and the defensive unit.
MT’s running game performed exceptionally well Saturday night, totaling 55 carries for 302 yards, behind the legs of multiple running backs. Jordan Parker amassed 117 yards on 17 carries to lead MT’s rushing attack, along with Drayton Calhoun who added 14 carries for 104 yards with a touchdown.
It was the first time a pair of Blue Raiders topped the century mark on the ground since Nov. 7, 2009 against Florida International.
Another ball carrier seeing increased playing time was freshman Jeremiah Bryson. Bryson was given a majority of the workload, leading the team with 10 carries for 56 yards, before going down early in the second quarter with a thumb and ankle injury. It is unclear which running back will emerge from the rotation of this backfield committee with Cunningham remaining out, but Bryson is accepting his role on the offense.
“We do have a rotation,” Bryson said. “I’m just trying to play my role, wherever my team needs me to be.”
MT’s defense, specifically their run defense, improved significantly from last week’s performance against McNeese State, in which they allowed 298 yards on the ground. The Blue Raider’s defense held the FAU running game to only 96 yards on 28 carries, while also forcing two fumbles that led to a Blue Raider touchdown.
“Defensively, we played better,” said Head Coach Rick Stockstill. “We did a better job of stopping the run. I thought we tackled better, I thought we were more violent, I thought we were more physical.”
Logan Kilgore and Anthony Amos remained on the same page as well, with Amos putting up a new career high in receiving yards with four receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns. Amos has now put up strong back-to-back performances, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards, and receiving touchdowns, so far. He has compiled 12 receptions for 172 yards and three touchdowns in the first two games combined.
“It feels pretty good,” Amos said. “I just try to go out there and play hard and try to do my best.”
Overall, Stockstill is satisfied with his team’s performance and winning an important conference matchup.
“Really proud of our team,” Stockstill said. “Conference games are hard to win, so this is a great win for us.”
The Blue Raiders will travel to Memphis on Saturday, Sept. 15 to take on the Memphis Tigers, hoping to follow up on Saturday’s much-improved performance.