The Middle Tennessee State University Blue Raiders fell to the Minnesota Golden Gophers on Saturday by the score of 35 to 24 in Minneapolis.
The Blue Raiders held the Gophers to just one score in the first quarter as both teams struggled to find their rhythm. In the second quarter, MTSU couldn’t get out of their own way. Two interceptions on back to back drives resulted in 14 very quick points.
The first interception was a 31-yard pick-six by Minnesota defensive back Jalen Myrick. Myrick snagged sophomore quarterback Austin Grammer’s pass in stride after the MTSU receiver inadvertently ran into a referee, leaving Myrick unscathed on his way to the end zone. On the next drive, Grammer was hit as he dropped back and the ball plopped into Minnesota linebacker Damien Wilson’s hands.
The Gophers capped off the turnover with a Williams touchdown catch from quarterback Mitch Leidner. Running back David Cobb added a short touchdown run giving the Gophers a 28 – 0lead going into the half.
The Blue Raiders didn’t have an answer for David Cobb for the majority of the first half. Cobb finished the day with 229 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Cobb was given power alleys in which to run though as the Minnesota offensive line dominated the trenches, allowing their backs to put up 294 yards rushing.
Momentum began to sway towards the Blue Raiders with the start of the second half with senior running back Reggie Whatley’s 44-yard touchdown run on the half’s opening drive.
A touchdown catch by sophomore receiver Terry Pettis on the next possession was reversed and ruled incomplete after review. The controversial reversal took away the six, but gave the Blue Raiders a first and goal due to a pass interference call against Minnesota. MTSU was stuffed twice and a broken play on third down led to a 21-yard field goal by MTSU’s Cody Clark. Cobb responded with another big run of his own, making the score 35 to 10, Minnesota.
Whatley would score again on a 12-yard touchdown run with 2:09 remaining in the third quarter, which was set up by a blocked Minnesota punt. Senior Marcus Henry would haul in a 3-yard touchdown with less than a minute remaining in regulation after quarterback Grammer sidestepped a blitzing Gopher defender and connected with Henry in the back of the end zone.
Grammer and the Blue Raider offense were never allowed to find a rhythm due to constant pressure upfront from a hungry Minnesota defense and relentless blitzing. Grammer was forced to throw on the run and from his back foot constantly, forcing his receivers to double back to under thrown deep balls and make tough plays. Grammer finished the day at 22 for 38, 258 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.
The Blue Raiders will try for the rebound win next Saturday at home against rival Western Kentucky at 6pm.
For more updates on Blue Raider sports, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport