Photo by Ambre Rogue / MTSU Sidelines
In the 66th rendition of the “100 Miles of Hate” rivalry, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders battled the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers with more than just first place in the Conference USA East division on the line.
The first quarter opened with WKU moving down the field on an 11-play, 48-yard drive. They would move inside the Middle Tennessee 10 but miscommunication hurt the Hilltoppers as a fumble and failed fake field-goal attempt would give MTSU the ball.
The Blue Raiders went down the field in an 8-play, 54-yard drive that was keyed by a 26-yard catch by Dennis Andrews. Quarterback Brent Stockstill completed all five of his passing attempts on the drive, which ended with a Canon Rooker 36-yard field-goal, giving MTSU an early 3-0 lead.
The Hilltoppers would answer on their next drive, as quarterback Mike White completed a 35-yard pass to Nicholas Norris. MTSU Cornerback Mike Minter was whistled for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that moved the ball forward 15 more yards. The drive would end with a 42-yard field-goal by kicker Skyler Simcox, tying the game at 3.
The Blue Raiders would be the first to reach the endzone, as their next drive would go 10-plays, 75-yards, ending on an I’Tavius Mathers two-yard touchdown run. The drive was helped by a pass interference call in the endzone against Western Kentucky that set the Blue Raiders up at the two, leading to Mathers’ run.
Western Kentucky answered back immediately on a 12-play, 60-yard drive. Running back Anthony Wales was key on the drive as he converted multiple first downs for the Hilltoppers. The drive ended with Wales running it in from one yard out to tie the game at 10.
The Blue Raiders would take the lead on another Rooker field goal, this one from 41-yards out. It closed an 11-play, 51-yard drive.
The lead would be short-lived, as the Hiltoppers drove right down the field on a 6-play, 72-yard drive. White completed a 45-yard strike to Taywan Taylor for the score, as WKU took a 17-13 lead.
The Blue Raiders got back on offense with just 1:46 on the clock. The drive started out with a couple touches from Mathers, including a 17-yard run. MTSU would make short work of the Hilltopper secondary as Stockstill would complete a 28-yard pass to Richie James, giving him seven catches for 97 yards in the first half.
WKU quickly moved down the field and were able to get a 52-yard field goal up and good, right as time expired, sending the game to halftime with a 20-20 tie.
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