Matthew Giffin / Contributing Writer
Blue Raider football returned on Saturday, and started off the season off strong at Floyd Stadium with a blowout win against the Monmouth University Hawks, 50-15.
After an excellent 2019 season (11-3, 6-0 Big South) but not playing a single game last year due to the introduction of a global pandemic, the Hawks (0-1) had a rough season opener as their offense continued to lose the ball while the Raiders (1-0) just kept scoring.
The less-than-impressive MTSU defense of last season was nowhere to be seen, replaced by one that got the Blue Raiders back on offense. The defense recovered three Monmouth fumbles, forced two turnovers on downs, and intercepted a pass from Hawks quarterback Tony Muskett, and ran the ball back for a 44-yard TD by Teldrick Ross.
Bailey Hockman’s performance at quarterback was commanding and efficient. The redshirt junior who transferred from NC State in the spring completed 17 out of 22 passing attempts, three of those being TD’s and one being a two-point conversion. Hockman ended the game with 215 passing yards.
Freshman Jaylin Lane also stood out. He jump-started the Blue Raiders’ scoring streak with a 70-yard punt return for a TD in the second quarter and connected with one of Hockman’s passes to score again before the end of the half. Freshman Frank Peasant led the Blue Raiders with 27 rushing yards.
Though the Raiders took their first win of the season as predicted, things started off slow. The first quarter was a scoreless back-and-forth with the ball being punted 5 times before the first buzzer. Even after the first score by the Raiders, there wasn’t a clearly dominant team until the second half, which started with a 14-7 MTSU lead and ended with the Hawks reaching the end zone only one more time.
Sophomore Tony Muskett and junior Juwon Farri led the Hawks on offense with 177 yards passing and 99 yards rushing, respectively.
Though the Blue Raiders were favored to win, not many expected them to be as dominant as they were against the Hawks.
On Saturday, September 11, the Blue Raiders will travel to Lane Stadium in Blacksburg to square off against the Virginia Tech Hokies (1-0). The game will be available to view on ACC Network Extra at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time.
MTSU will need to exceed expectations once again to pull off a victory against the Hokies.