Photo by Devon Arnold/MTSU Sidelines
The pouring rain in Bowling Green, Ohio, wasn’t enough to stop the offensive fireworks from Middle Tennessee Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Raiders (2-1) traveled to Ohio to take on the Bowling Green State Falcons (1-2) in very sloppy field conditions. The first half was tight but Middle Tennessee pulled away in the second half, winning 41-21 behind the play of Murfreesboro natives Brent Stockstill and I’Tavius Mathers.
I’Tavius Mathers was nothing short of sensational in this game. The senior running back piled up more than 150 yards rushing along with three touchdowns on the ground, including a long 53-yard touchdown in the first quarter.
In the passing game, Mathers made an even bigger impact, leading the team with 4 receptions for 103 yards.
On the first play of scrimmage in the second half, Mathers scored his third total touchdown of the game on a simple swing pass, taking the ball 78 yards untouched to the end-zone.
On the day, Mathers recorded his season-highs in rushing yards (157), receiving yards (103), rushing touchdowns (3), and receiving touchdowns (1).
More impressively, Mathers became the first player in school history to record 100 yards rushing and 100 receiving in single game. He also became the first FBS player to hit this accomplishment thus far in the 2016 season.
The rain proved to be an issue for Bowling Green’s passing attack but it never seemed to have an impact on the Blue Raiders. Brent Stockstill continued his impressive start to the season, throwing for 278 yards and three touchdowns.
The scoring connection from Stockstill to Mathers for the 78-yard score accounted for the longest throw in Stockstill’s two-year coveted career.
Richie James also had an impressive game. After a slow start, James ended the day with six catches for 82 yards and a score.
The Blue Raider defense prepared to handle the spread offense coming into the game. But once the rain set in, both teams had to rely on the ground game.
The MTSU defense struggled against the run in this game, allowing 300 yards rushing with a five-yard average and three touchdowns. Middle Tennessee was much more sound against the pass as they allowed only 129 yards passing and grabbed two interceptions on the day.
The Blue Raiders will look to build on this momentum next week at home against Louisiana Tech in the annual Black Out Game. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.