Story by Taylor Sturm // Contributing Writer
MTSU fell to the Vanderbilt Commodores 47-24 on a stormy Saturday evening as turnovers and an inability to stop the run stalled any hope the Blue Raiders had at coming out on top.
Quarterback Brent Stockstill had his way with the highly touted Vanderbilt defense throughout the game as did wide receiver Richie James. Their connection was highlighted by a beautiful throw on third down in which James was able to somehow drag a toe – a play that was called incomplete on the field and then later reversed. Unfortunately, James struggled in the punt return game, bobbling multiple punts and causing a safety. His up and down night was redeemed with a one-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter to take the lead 10-5 over Vanderbilt.
The Commodores would then score two rushing touchdowns to open the second quarter before the game was delayed due to a severe thunderstorm. Once play resumed, the Blue Raiders made a huge statement by blocking a punt and then scoring to cut the lead to just two.
However, Vanderbilt would continue to run the ball down the throat of the MTSU defense and score two more times before the half ended, leading 33-17.
The defense showed back up again in the third quarter, causing Vanderbilt’s first turnover of the entire season when Darius Harris ripped the ball from Khari Blasingame’s arms. From this point on, however, the offense would stall, and Vanderbilt would continuously run the ball on their way to a 47-24 victory that felt far closer than it actually was.
Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb was phenomenal all game long, running for 211 yards and two touchdowns with two highlight-reel hurdles over the Blue Raider defense. MTSU QB Stockstill finished the game with 399 yards and three touchdowns, torching what many perceive to be one of the top defenses in the SEC.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this game for the Blue Raiders, however, is that they did not allow a sack until late in the fourth quarter. Their offensive line’s ability to hold Vanderbilt’s defensive line bodes well for their upcoming games and the rest of this season.
MTSU will look to put this loss behind them when they face Bowling Green on the road on Saturday, Sept. 17 at 11 a.m.