In a game only a mother could love, the MTSU Blue Raiders (2-3, 1-0 C-USA) did what was needed to win over Marshall (2-3, 0-1 C-USA) Saturday afternoon in Floyd Stadium 24-13.
Senior leader Jovante Moffatt had the first big play of the afternoon with an interception of Isaiah Green that set up Chaton Mobley’s one-yard rushing score for the early 7-0 MTSU lead.
But Green answered back instantly with a 75-yard circus catch to Armani Levias who bobbled and eventually hauled in a streak on the sideline and spun past Desmond Anderson to knot the game at seven-all.
But the true action came at the end of the 1st half with Asher O’Hara taking a four-yard read keeper for six to put MTSU up 17-10.
What followed can only be described as amateur malpractice from the Conference USA officials on hand on Saturday. With Marshall lining up a field goal at the end of its drive with a few seconds to go, the Herd botched the snap and threw a desperate pass to try and gain a first down which was successful.
As the officials tried to set up a first down, Marshall got to the line and were set with clearly more than eleven men on the field, a penalty that would’ve ran out the clock of the half. This penalty was not called resulting in an infuriated Coach Rick Stockstill and a blown whistle giving Marshall a free, fourth timeout.
The referee’s hot-mic was then caught saying “There is nothing we can do” eliciting a loud boo from the home crowd. Marshall would then score a field goal when time should have ran out on them putting the scoreline at 17-13 MTSU at halftime.
Stockstill would say in the post-game press conference that the explanation from the officials was that following the first down, an MTSU player was blocking the umpire and the line judge from getting the ball to the spot where it could be snapped.
MTSU would not let the chaos faze them with stops on defense in the 2nd half including two massive holds on Marshall fourth down conversion attempts in the red zone and stopping all Herd drives with a turnover.
O’Hara would connect with the speedy Zack Dobson on a 37-yard tunnel screen to push the Blue Raiders lead to two possessions at 24-13.
That score proved to be enough as Moffatt again jumped a sloppy pass for an interception with five minutes to play to bury Marshall six feet under. The pick marks Moffatt’s first ever multi-interception game. Moffatt also recorded 14 tackles on the day.
The win gives MTSU its first conference win of the season in its first game for the seventh time in eight years as the Blue Raiders try and grind its way back to the Conference USA Championship Game.
MTSU will hit the road for another tough test in Conference USA play with a contest at red-hot Florida Atlantic. The Owls were the first team to fall in last year’s road to the championship for MTSU when the Raiders scored in the dying moments to upset Lane Kiffin and company.