As a spectator, a game with tons of rain and high winds is a nightmare. For the MTSU Blue Raiders (3-5, 2-2 C -USA) offense, it was a dream come true as MT ran amok on Florida International (4-4, 2-3 C-USA) to the tune of 50-17 Saturday afternoon.
James Morgan delivered a strike to Tony Gaiter IV for the opening score of the game on an 18-yard pass to put FIU up 7-0.
Morgan threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns despite the severe weather on the field but struggled once the rain truly started coming down.
Asher O’Hara would provide an early spark with a wild 53-yard scramble down to the FIU five-yard line leading to a Terelle West rushing score to knot the game at seven-all.
FIU’s first of multiple turnovers proved deadly almost instantly as Tyshun Render’s punch out strip turned into a passing score for the Blue Raiders when O’Hara linked up with Jimmy Marshall in the endzone to make it 14-7 MTSU.
The second quarter belonged to FIU, scoring twice on a touchdown and field goal to grab the 17-14 advantage heading into the half. The Panthers defense stood strong despite a second fumble to stymie the Blue Raiders offense.
But with the turn to the second half came a major turn in the weather as the rain that had been light turned into a monsoon. And MTSU seized the moment to turn the tides in its favor with the new conditions.
MT opened the first five minutes of the 2nd half with 10 straight points with a run-heavy, old-school offense that put FIU on the back foot and did not look back for the rest of the game. MTSU would score 36 consecutive points on the back of 471 rushing yards
“I got after them at halftime and said we’ve stunk in up the past three games coming into the 3rd quarter…and it is pouring down rain but that’s no excuse and I liked the energy we came out with.” Coach Rick Stockstill said.
O’Hara only recorded 25 passing yards, but ran up 159 yards on the ground. West wasn’t far behind with 130 yards and a hat trick of touchdowns on an average of 14.5 yards a carry.
Jayy McDonald would throw his hat in the ring late with a 92-yard score for his first career touchdown to finish with 130 yards rushing. His touchdown is tied for the second-longest rushing score in MTSU history.
“We connected on all phases of the game. The offense hasn’t been the best the last two weeks and that’s namely on me. But today we put it all together and now we’re going to go on a roll.” O’Hara said.
FIU finished the game with four lost fumbles en route to a nightmare 2nd half that saw them only gain 31 yards over the 30 minutes.
“I encourage my guys and the guys behind me on the defensive line to win every rep and don’t stop chasing the ball until the whistle blows because you never know.” Render said.
MTSU hits the road once again for a contest against Charlotte. The 49ers are coming off a big comeback win over North Texas and are led by running back Benny LeMay who will look to have a big day against the MTSU run defense that dominated on Saturday.
The game is slated to start at 2:30 p.m. on ESPN3 on November 2nd.
To contact Sports Editor Elijah Campbell, email firstname.lastname@example.org.