Photo by Sarah Grace Taylor / Editor-in-Chief
Timeline by Tyler Lamb / Sports Editor
On Saturday, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders defeated the Missouri Tigers in a 51-45 shootout to give Rick Stockstill his first win over a Power 5 school since 2012 (Georgia Tech) and his fourth such win overall. For Missouri fans, it was a surprise that MTSU was even able to compete with their Tigers. For the boys in blue, however, it is just another in a long line of signature wins for the Blue Raider athletic department.
Running back I’Tavius Mathers added to his impressive year by rushing for 215 yards against the Tigers. His 11th touchdown of the year, a 71-yard run, gave the Blue Raiders some much-needed momentum as they fought their way back into the game. Mathers also added a four-yard receiving touchdown in the second half that gave MTSU a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Quarterback Brent Stockstill led his 12th-ranked offense to 51 points, the second-most they’ve scored all year. Stockstill finished the day completing 23 of his 41 pass attempts for 280 yards and four touchdowns, two of which were caught by senior-transfer Dennis Andrews. Standout receiver Richie James added 129 yards on five catches and a touchdown of his own.
The key in this game, however, was the turnover margin. MTSU forced two fumbles at crucial junctions in the game, while the Blue Raider offense managed to keep the ball secure on their possessions. On both fumbles, the offense converted the turnovers into 10 much needed points.
For Middle Tennessee, this wasn’t their first go-around with an SEC opponent. MTSU has played Vanderbilt the past two years and Alabama last season. But for Blue Raider nation, this was just the latest statement in what’s been a banner year for MTSU athletics, arguably the program’s biggest win since March Madness when the Blue Raiders made history against Michigan State.
Michigan State basketball head coach Tom Izzo was expecting to cut the nets down at the end of the NCAA March Madness tournament. Instead, Izzo, Denzel Valentine and the rest of the Spartans were sent home on day one of the Tournament when the Kermit Davis-led Blue Raiders beat them 90-81. Coming into the game as 16 1/2-point underdogs, the Blue Raiders became just the eighth 15 seed of all-time to beat a number two seed.
MTSU came out of the gates hot in that game, making their first six shots from the field. Senior Darnell Harris punctuated the start with a three-pointer that gave the Raiders a 15-2 lead. For every run the Spartans used to get back in the game, the Blue Raiders went on a run to shut them down. Junior Reggie Upshaw led the way for MT, scoring a team-high 21 points. Sophomore Giddy Potts added 19 points of his own, making three of his five three-point attempts. All five starters reached double figures in scoring, en route to the biggest win in the program’s history.
These two wins set the tone for Blue Raider athletics, showing that one doesn’t have to be in a major conference to be competitive. The program also added marquee wins in other sports as well. Here, we take a chronological look at MTSU’s biggest wins of any sport in 2016:
For more sports stories, follow us at www.mtsusidelines.com, on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter at @Sidelines_Sport.
To contact Sports Editor Tyler Lamb (@Tlamb35), email firstname.lastname@example.org.