Sunday, January 29, 2023

Football: 5 turnovers fuel Blue Raiders 51-17 win over Old Dominion

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Photo courtesy of MT Athletics

In a game where both teams combined for over 1,000 yards of offense, it was turnovers that put MTSU (5-3, 4-1) over the top against Old Dominion (2-7, 1-5) by a score of 51-17 in Norfolk, Virginia, Saturday.

ODU quarterback Blake LaRussa tossed three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns by MTSU, and the Monarchs lost two fumbles for a grand total of five turnovers.

Despite being out-gained by ODU, MTSU pounced on the errors to run away with the game by halftime.

A 100-yard interception return touchdown by sophomore safety Reed Blankenship made it a 31-10 scoreline at the break.

The Blue Raiders expanded on their lead in the second half and cruised to a blowout win, which puts MTSU on the brink of bowl eligibility.

Hitting the ground running

During Monday’s pre-game press conference, coach Rick Stockstill lamented the lack of production from the running game so far this season. But, Stockstill did predict a breakout game was coming.

It happened at Old Dominion, as the Blue Raiders racked up 208 rushing yards vs a porous Monarch defense. Terelle West had his best performance of the season, ripping off 120 yards. The highlight of the performance came in the first quarter with a 71-yard scamper for a touchdown.

Chaton Mobley made a triumphant return with 36 yards rushing and a touchdown, and Brent Stockstill tacked on a rushing score as well.

Zack Dobson had a standout day with two carries for 35 yards. The former top recruit has made appearances but never posted a major contribution. Dobson could be a major factor if he figures into the coaching staff’s plans at the back end of this season.

Man of steel

Despite still feeling lingering issues with his injury suffered at FIU, Brent Stockstill had a solid day against ODU, throwing for 280 yards and two touchdowns through the air as well as a rushing score.

Stockstill was sporting a boot at the press conference earlier in the week as a precaution, but the senior signal caller looked fine while playing.

Stockstill’s health will be a key factor as the Blue Raiders try to hunt down FIU for the C-USA East crown. Games against WKU and UTEP shouldn’t prove too harsh tests, but matchups versus UAB and at Kentucky could prove dangerous.

Big time players make big-time plays

MTSU found the end zone multiple times from big yardage plays.

Gatlin Casey reeled in a 70-yard TD catch in the third quarter, and Ty Lee hauled in a 39-yard strike for six in the third as well.

Blankenship’s 100-yard pick-six was followed up by Wesley Bush’s 37-yard house call at the final moments of the game for the Blue Raiders’ second non-offensive touchdown.

West had the only big-time scoring play in the ground game.

What’s next

MTSU has a short week ahead of its 100 Miles of Hate rivalry showdown against Western Kentucky.

MT has lost the last three encounters versus the Hilltoppers, including two multiple overtime heartbreakers in the last two meetings.

This season promises to be different for the Blue Raiders, as MTSU figures to be heavy favorites against WKU. The Hilltoppers are 1-7 this season with ugly losses to Charlotte, Old Dominion and Maine.

The game will be at Floyd Stadium on Friday, Nov. 2 at 7 p.m. and will be broadcasted on CBS Sports Network.

To contact Sports Editor David Chamberlain, email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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