MTSU quarterback Asher O’Hara drops back to pass during the Blue Raiders 45-26 victory against Tennessee State. O’Hara became the first MTSU quarterback in school history to throw for over 300 yards and rush for over 100 in a game. (Photo by Megan Cole/ Sidelines)
A packed Floyd Stadium for the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders (1-1) home opener got an unexpected tight football game as the visiting Tennessee State Tigers (1-1) heavily tested the home side for most of the night.
A nightmare first quarter was a gift for the visiting Tigers. TSU marched down the field on its first drive before failing on a fake field goal which was picked by Reed Blankenship in the endzone.
But, Chris Rowland took a screen pass 96-yards on 3rd and long to open the scoring on the night on the following drive.
MTSU fought back in a big second quarter as they nabbed another Blankenship INT in the endzone and punished TSU instantly with O’Hara finding DJ England-Chisolm open down the seam for an 80-yard score to get the Floyd Stadium crowd rocking before halftime.
The two sides traded blows in prize-fight fashion in the third quarter. MTSU scored twice with touchdown passes to Ty Lee and Jarrin Pierce and TSU responded with a 60-yard screen pass score to Rowland and cashing in from two yards out after an O’Hara pass was deflected by the on-field official and into the hands of a Tigers defender.
As the fourth quarter ran, MTSU proved to be too much for the Tigers as a Chaton Mobley touchdown and an O’Hara toss to CJ Windham put the contest out of reach for TSU.
O’Hara became the first MTSU player to throw for 300 yards and rush for 100 in the win. O’Hara’s final line was 367 yards through the air and 103 on the ground with four TDs and an interception. O’Hara accounted for 470 of MTSU’s 604 total offensive yards in the contest.
Mobley ran for 103 of his 104 rushing yards in the 4th quarter. He finished with two TDs on a 11.6 average rush attempt.
On defense, Blankenship led the way with his two interceptions and nine tackles.
The win moves MTSU to 1-1 on the year, with a massive home bout against the Duke Blue Devils ahead. If the Blue Raiders want to pull another upset over a Power 5 opponent, it’ll need to clean up its sloppy tackling and avoidable turnovers against the offensive mind of Duke head coach David Cutcliffe.