Saturday, September 23, 2023

Football: O’Hara, MTSU score late for first win of 2020 season


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The script had been written for the MTSU Blue Raiders. Another late drive to try and complete a comeback. Another case of falling just shy of victory.

But Asher O’Hara and Greg Grate refused to copy and paste another game.

Grate, a Miami native, secured the game-ending interception to give MTSU (1-4, 1-2 Conference USA) its first win of the season away from home against Florida International (0-2, 0-1) by a score of 31-28 Saturday evening in Miami.

“(The interception) was so special because earlier in the game I gave up a (touchdown) but I didn’t let it keep me down. My team needed me, I just tried to do everything I could…I saw the ball and I had to go it,” Grate said.

O’Hara found Jarrin Pierce in the back of the endzone with over a minute to go in the fourth quarter for a 12-yard touchdown pass to put the Blue Raiders up three.

“(In) past seasons (we haven’t won) our away games and we just felt it all collectively. We’re not here to lose…so that last drive was just all heart,” O’Hara said.

O’Hara struggled in the first half but put the pieces together in the 2nd half to push MTSU over the top offensively. O’Hara finished with 268 yards passing and 106 yards rushing and accounted for all four of the Blue Raiders’ touchdowns on the day.

“Just having a quarterback like (O’Hara), especially someone who can use his feet, makes my game easier because I know where he’s going to scramble and I know where the soft spots in the defense are. We’re just playing catch at the end of the day,” Pierce said.

The run game proved to be an issue for the MTSU defense again this week, giving up 270 yards on the ground, but the Blue Raiders did find success with hits in the backfield racking up seven tackles for loss and five sacks. FIU also finished the game with a combined 8/21 passing for 58 yards from three different passers.

“We just got to hold onto this victory right now, come back tomorrow and don’t dwell over it, and put this behind us and move on to North Texas,” Grate said.

The win for MTSU breaks a five-game losing streak dating back to last season and is also the Blue Raiders first away win since UTEP back in November of 2018.

What’s Next:

MTSU returns to Floyd Stadium for a meeting with the Mean Green of North Texas. North Texas enters the matchup at 1-3, with its sole win in its opening game vs Houston Baptist. Austin Aune has taken the reigns as heir apparent to UNT legend Mason Fine who graduated last season.

Last year, MTSU suffered perhaps its worst loss of the season to North Texas in a massive collapse with the Mean Green kicking a game-winning field goal as time expired.

The game is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. CT kickoff and is viewable on CBS Sports Network.

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