Sometimes in tough seasons, you need a few strokes of luck to get a win. And for MTSU Saturday night in Houston, they didn’t get just one…or two, or three but four.
A couple of dinks of the crossbar and a collapse from the Rice (0-1) special teams unit handed a golden ticket to Asher O’Hara and the MTSU (2-5, 2-3 Conference USA) offense to win its second game of the year in a double-overtime thriller 40-34.
The Blue Raiders led late in the fourth quarter after a back and forth game and had Rice pinned in its own territory on fourth and 24 before giving up a 48-yard pass to let the Owls back in the game. Rice would then score on the next play as senior quarterback Mike Collins linked up with receiver Austin Trammell to take the lead with 34 seconds in regulation.
Collins, who takes over for departed starter Tom Stewart, totaled 242 passing yards, four touchdowns, and one interception in his first start of the 2020 season.
In a career-defining drive, O’Hara and the Blue Raider offense painted a picture-perfect drive with almost no time to set up a tying Crews Holt 48-yard field goal to force overtime.
Disaster struck on MTSU’s first possession with O’Hara being sacked for a major loss on third down, leading to a missed Holt field goal. Any score by Rice would win the game, but the Owls would have the possible game-winning kick deflect four times off the field goal posts and crossbar to deny victory in one of the strangest plays this year in college football.
Rice would again miss its field goal attempt in double overtime, giving MTSU a chance to win in its following possession. And given the opportunity, the Blue Raiders would not let it slip by.
O’Hara, who finished with four touchdowns combined on the night, would score his final six points with a burst down the left sideline and past the pylon for the game-winning play.
Once more, O’Hara led the way in passing and rushing yards for MTSU racking up 402 yards combined against the Owls. After a slow start to the 2020 season, the junior quarterback has seemed to have regained his mojo.
The loss snaps a three-game winning streak for the Owls, dating back to its win vs MTSU in the 2019 season.
MTSU hosts Charlotte after a bye week next week. The 49ers will enter the game after playing Duke in a rare non-conference matchup in a COVID-ravaged season. Charlotte leans on returning starter Chris Reynolds at quarterback and veteran running back Aaron McAllister.
The game is scheduled to start at a to be determined time and network.