Grammer, Blue Raiders struggle against BYU

Blue Raiders lose long struggle against BYU. Photo by Greg French MTSU Sidelines Staff Photographer

Middle Tennessee looked to lock up bowl eligibility Saturday night, hosting Brigham-Young University (5-4) in a non-conference matchup.

The Blue Raiders could not get much going offensively against BYU, posting its lowest amount of total offensive yardage of the season as the Cougars snapped Middle Tennessee’s seven-game home winning streak.

MTSU (5-4, 4-1 C-USA) managed only 228 total yards of offense, with 109 coming on the ground.

“It was a disappointing and frustrating game,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said. “Offensively, it was very inconsistent and very hit and miss. I know we’re better than how we played today.”

The Blue Raiders’ offense and Austin Grammer struggled to find any rhythm, due in part to BYU’s front seven getting pressure on the redshirt sophomore quarterback.

Grammer was sacked four times, and was consistently knocked around all game by the Cougars’ defense.

Grammer was 16-of-32 passing for 119 yards, and had one touchdown and two interceptions.

“It was probably one of the more exotic defenses that we’ve played as far as who’s coming from where and what the safeties were doing,” MTSU quarterback Austin Grammer said. “They did a good job of disguising their coverages and starting to bring blitzes that we weren’t really familiar with.”

Defensively, the Blue Raiders held tall throughout most of the contest, despite being on the field a majority of the game. MTSU’s offense did not give the defense much of a breather, mustering only one drive that had 10 or more plays.

On that drive, MT kicker Cody Clark missed a rare 29-yard field goal. Entering the game, he had connected on his previous 17 tries in 19 attempts.

“We had a nice opening drive, we went down the field but missed a chip shot (field goal),” Stockstill said. “Then our offense sputtered around the rest of the half until Clarke had his touchdown.

As expected, BYU brought a multitude of fans after MTSU athletic director Chris Massaro announced during the week that close to 4,000 tickets had been sold on BYU’s side.

The officially attendance of the game was a lower than expected 18,952, with most of that number being composed of BYU fans, much to the chagrin of Stockstill.

“I looked at the field, I don’t know,” said a somber Stockstill. “I know they brought a good group of people. I’m just disappointed in how we played.”

BYU opened up its first drive with a 37-yard touchdown from Christian Stewart to Colby Pearson.

Middle Tennessee answered with six consecutive stops, forcing three 3-and-outs in the first half. The Blue Raiders would put up its only points of the game after Austin Grammer found Devin Clarke on a slant route for a 22-yard touchdown.

Following a 7-7 tie at halftime, BYU would score 20 unanswered points to push the Cougars to the victory, snapping their four-game losing streak.

BYU quarterback Christian Stewart finished 28-of-45 passing for 316 yards and two touchdowns.

Cougars running back Jamaal Williams rushed for 49 yards on 15 carries, moving him past former Doak Walker Award winner Luke Staley for No. 6 on BYU’s all-time rushing yards list.

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