Blackout Win: Blue Raiders go lights out
Middle Tennessee football (5-3, 3-1 Sunbelt) defeated North Texas (3-5, 2-2 Sunbelt) on Saturday in MT’s annual Blackout Game by a final score of 38-21.
The Blue Raiders racked up almost 500 yards of total offense while also forcing four turnovers en route to arguably one of their most impressive wins of the season. This game was pivotal in the Blue Raiders’ bowl hunt, as there are only three bowl tie-ins for the Sunbelt conference, and there are already four teams with five or more wins.
The main focus of the game was quarterback Logan Kilgore, who threw for almost 350 yards and ran for another 45-yard score. He had three passing touchdowns, as well as one rushing. This was the third time he had thrown for 300 yards in a game. The former junior college transfer had explosive passes for 34, 49, 52 and 72 yards.
The offensive line also played well, not allowing a single sack all game. This was the fifth time this season that Kilgore had not been brought down behind the line.
The rushing workload was mainly on the shoulders of Jordan Parker who had 18 rushes for 59 yards and touchdown. He was complemented by “DC21” Drayton Calhoun with eight rushes for 25 yards and former Pittsburgh transfer Jeremiah Bryson, who had four rushes for 14 yards. However, the longest run of the day was Kilgore’s 45-yard scamper for a touchdown.
Wide receiver Kyle Griswould shattered his prior records of 63 yards and one touchdown. The former Duke transfer managed to gain 140 yards receiving to pair with a couple of touchdowns on 49 and 72-yard bombs from Kilgore. After the injury to Marcus Henry, there was some question about the Blue Raiders receiving corp.
The defense allowed only 211 yards passing, picking off the North Texas offense three times. The Blue Raiders also forced a fumble and two sacks. Jajuan Harley and Chris Sharpe both caught their first-career interceptions for MT in the first half, with Kevin Byard having his on NT’s final drive of the game. That was Byard’s second of the season. Leighton Gasque and O’Shae Bridges managed back-to-back sacks with the second forcing a turnover. Bridges’ sack ended in a fumble being recovered by linebacker Ykeem Wells.
The Blue Raiders came blazing out of the gates with Jajuan Harley grabbing his first interception of the year on a deep pass from NT quarterback Derek Thompson. This led to an eight-play, 64-yard drive capped off by an 18-yard touchdown catch by receiver Anthony Amos. MT’s second possession went for two plays. One was a one-yard loss and the other a 72 yard touchdown pass from Logan Kilgore to the red-shirt sophomore Griswould. The third and final scoring play was a 21-yard field goal by kicker Carlos Lopez. North Texas had only 28 yards of total offense and punted the ball twice.
The second quarter started with a punt by MT and one from the Mean Green. North Texas’s second possession ended with a failed fourth down attempt at the MT 24. After another punt by each team, the Blue Raiders managed to put together a three-play 72 yard drive that ended in a 49-yard Griswould touchdown reception. Derek Thompson threw his second interception of the day to Chris Sharpe to end the North Texas scoring threat before the half.
Reggie Whatley took the opening kickoff of the second half to the North Texas 40-yard line, giving MT excellent field position. The Blue Raiders capped off this drive with a four-yard touchdown run by Parker. The Mean Green countered with a touchdown of their own after a 40-yard hookup between Derek Thompson and receiver Darnell Smith set up a two-yard Antoinne Jimmerson score. MT fired back when Kilgore found the end zone on a 45-yard quarterback draw.
Sacks by Leighton Gasque and O’Shae Bridges helped stifle the NT offense early in the fourth quarter, the latter forcing a fumble. Jimmerson did find pay dirt again on a 15-yard touchdown run, but after a failed onside kick, the Mean Green’s last possession was capped off with an interception by Kevin Byard in the end zone. MT ran the clock out for a 38-21 win.
Middle Tennessee will now prepare for a Thursday night game against Sunbelt powerhouse Western Kentucky (6-2, 3-1 Sunbelt) at Houchen Industries – L.T. Smith Stadium in Bowling Green, Kentucky.