Photo by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines
The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (6-6, 4-4) became bowl eligible Saturday by defeating the Old Dominion Monarchs (5-7, 3-5) by a score of 41-10 on senior day at Floyd Stadium.
“(We’ve) been battling adversity throughout the season,” said senior running back Shane Tucker. “It feels good to soak in this moment and know that all of (the seniors’) hard work since we stepped on this campus paid off.”
Old Dominion running back Ray Lawry’s 28-yard carry on the first drive of the game set up a Monarch field goal to give them a 3-0 lead.
Middle Tennessee responded with a 46-yard kickoff return by Desmond Anderson on the ensuing drive that set up a 28-yard field goal by Cannon Rooker to tie the game at three.
With time winding down in the first quarter, MTSU safety Darryl Randolph blocked Nick Rice’s 41-yard field goal attempt and recovered it to keep the game tied at three heading into the second quarter.
Near the end of the first half, MTSU carved out a 10-play drive that took 4:07 off the clock. The drive was capped off by an eight-yard touchdown pass from Stockstill to birthday boy C.J. Windham to put MTSU ahead 17-3.
Just before halftime, the Blue Raiders collected another touchdown courtesy of a 22-yard pitch-and-catch from Stockstill to Jimmy Marshall to make it 24-3 going into the half.
The Old Dominion defense halted Middle Tennessee at the beginning of the second half by intercepting two Stockstill passes, but were unable to capitalize after the Blue Raider defense stifled them on both possessions.
MTSU running back Terelle West had a pair of rushing touchdowns in the third and fourth quarters, expanding the Middle Tennessee lead to 38-3.
Backup kicker Crews Holt made his first career field goal in the fourth quarter to make the Blue Raider lead 41-3.
Old Dominion found the endzone with a six-yard touchdown strike from Blake LaRussa to Melvin Vaughn late in the fourth quarter to make it 41-10. However, it proved too little too late, and MTSU became bowl eligible with the sixth win of the season over Old Dominion.
“It was a great win, and I’m proud of our team and our seniors and what they’ve accomplished,” said head coach Rick Stockstill. “I’m happy for the Shane Tuckers, Lucas Hamiltons and D.J. Sanders of the world because those guys can leave here and say they were bowl eligible all five years. Not everybody can do that.”
Terelle West takes the torch at running back
The redshirt sophomore carried the ball 26 times for a career-high 170 yards and an average of 6.5 yards per carry.
West scored for the second week in a row after he ran one in from six yards out in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, West added a 36-yard score to increase the Middle Tennessee lead to 35.
The Alabama native was also a key target in the passing game, catching three passes for 25 yards.
“I just wanted to do the right things so that when the time came, I was ready,” West said. “I’ve been trying to stay positive, and I was ready to go when I was called.”
Stockstill spreads the wealth
Stockstill had one of his best days of the year, going 21-30 for 266 yards and three touchdowns.
Perhaps the most glaring statistic of the day was that Stockstill completed a pass to six different receivers and threw a touchdown pass to three different Blue Raiders.
In the first half, Stockstill fired touchdown passes to Salter, Marshall and Windham to give Middle Tennessee a three-possession advantage heading into the half.
The junior quarterback’s only blemish were his two third-quarter interceptions.
“You’ve got to have a lot of guys make plays,” Stockstill said. “We’re trying to spread it around and have guys step up and make plays. That’s what we saw tonight.”
Middle Tennessee defense buckles down with backs against the wall
The MTSU defense stepped up and only allowed 10 points to Old Dominion, rebounding from the 41 points they gave up last week against Western Kentucky.
In the first half, the Blue Raiders allowed 12 first downs, but came up with six tackles for loss, one sack and two quarterback hurries en route to allowing just one Monarch field goal.
Throughout the contest, MTSU held ODU to 3-14 on third downs and 1-4 on fourth downs.
“Getting off the field is always important,” said linebacker D.J. Sanders. “The offense was hot tonight, and we wanted to get them the ball and let them keep feeding (Terelle) West.”
MTSU didn’t allow a touchdown until the fourth quarter.
“The defense started out slow, (but) after that we knew what we had to do,” Sanders said. “We knew that we had a mission to accomplish in this game, and that was our main focus.”
— Anthony Fiorella (@A_Fiorella74) November 25, 2017
Middle Tennessee will wait to see if they will be invited to play in a bowl game.