Blue Raider receiver Jocquez Bruce races up the sideline and is met by a Michigan defender during MTSU’s 40-21 season opening loss in Ann Arbor. Courtesy of MT Athletics
Ann Arbor, MI– The Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (0-1) put up a valiant effort in front of college football’s largest colosseum, but fell short as the Michigan Wolverines (1-0) were too much for the Blue Raiders Saturday night in Ann Arbor.
The game started perfectly for MTSU as Shea Patterson lost the football thanks to a strip from Gregory Grate Jr., putting the Blue Raider offense in a great starting position.
It was Asher O’Hara who earned the first snap at quarterback for the Blue Raiders and rewarded the decision with a scramble and a dive into the endzone for a 7-0 MTSU lead.
O’Hara finished with 217 yards through the air, 32 on the ground, and passing scores to JuCo transfer Jarrin Pierce and a last-minute 59-yard scamper from Jimmy Marshall to cap O’Hara’s first start of 2019.
Chase Cunningham received series as well, but did not shine as brightly as O’Hara finishing with 17 passing yards on four completions.
Ty Lee was mostly quiet, but led all receivers in receptions with 52 yards. In total, 14 Blue Raiders recorded a catch on the night.
Michigan quarterback Shea Patterson had a solid first half with three touchdown tosses, but struggled during the second half and was replaced by situational receiver and backup quarterback Dylan McCaffrey who had his own rushing score.
While they had to work for it, Michigan wore down the Blue Raiders and slowly pulled away from the visitors to secure a comfy opening night win in the Big House.
Although the score was slanted heavily in favor of the Wolverines, the Blue Raiders can return to Murfreesboro happy that they forced Michigan to keep its starters in late and kept the game within striking distance until late into the final quarter.
MTSU will return for its home opener against Tennessee State on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. with Coach Rick Stockstill hoping to answer any remaining questions against the Tigers before playing two big Power Five opponents in Duke and Iowa in the following weeks.
The quarterback battle will almost certainly continue next week and other position battles, including along the offensive line, will be noteworthy to watch.
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