Friday, February 23, 2024

Football: Raiders collapse in Battle for the Palladium loss

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Following a tough result at Army two weeks ago, the MTSU Blue Raider football team had time to prepare and mentally reset after being dealt a tough hand in its opening opponent on short notice.

But after two weeks of preparation, even the hardest True Blue supporters are probably scratching their heads over the direction of MT Football in 2020.

The renewal of The Battle for the Palladium did not live up to the hype as Troy (1-0) steamrolled MTSU (0-2) to the tune of a 47-14 scoreline at Floyd Stadium Saturday afternoon on national television.

The writing was on the wall early as MTSU’s issues cost them an interception returned for a touchdown due to an illegal substitution penalty, which Troy then cashed in for a touchdown of its own to take an early lead.

And while the Blue Raiders would knot the score at 7 following a wily escape and dive into the endzone by quarterback Asher O’Hara, the Trojans would rattle off 40 straight points to cruise to victory.

“This should hurt. This team will bounce back…find a way to correct our mistakes and deficiencies and try to get better,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said.

O’Hara would be benched following a turnover on downs midway through the second quarter for Chase Cunnigham as the Blue Raider coaching staff tried to spark a quiet offense. Cunningham would be sacked for a safety and throw two interceptions in the three drives he played. Third-string quarterback Mike Diliello would finish out the game in garbage time tossing his first Blue Raider touchdown to freshman Jaylin Lane.

“I (O’Hara) just have to do a lot better. (MTSU) runs through the quarterback….and I (have) to be a better point guard and get the ball where it needs to go and just make it easier on everyone else,” O’Hara said.

Troy would finish with 496 total yards powered by a great day from quarterback Gunnar Watson who threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns. The Trojans also got positive yardage from seven different rushers which tallied for 240 yards on 55 carries.

What’s Next:

MTSU will again have a bye before its homecoming game against Western Kentucky in an early edition of the 100 Miles of Hate. Both the Blue Raiders and Hilltoppers currently stand at 0-2, and the Hilltoppers will also take a bye into the game.

WKU has lost two close encounters to Louisville and Liberty in 2020 and is also leaning on its starting quarterback, Maryland transfer Tyrone Pigrome, to power both its passing and rushing attack on offense.

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