A win against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns Saturday would give the Blue Raiders the most victories since 2006. MTSU (6-3, 4-1) survived a second half scare against Florida International and won its third game in a row, 48-21. The win made the Blue Raiders bowl eligible for the first time since 2006, when they appeared in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl) in Detroit . (now called the
“If you look at the big picture of where we are, we are 6-3,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said during last Saturday’s post game press conference. “Playing four of the first five on the road and still being at this position, we got beat by some pretty good teams. We beat some good teams. This team (ULL) played Alabama close until the fourth quarter. It does not take any pressure off of us in there. That is an objective that we want to go to a , but we are not stopping here. To be 6-3 after the first week of November is a tremendous compliment to this football team.”
In the first half of Saturday’s win against FIU, the Blue Raiders jumped out to a 34-7 thanks to some long runs by junior quarterback Dwight Dasher. Dasher ran for two scores that covered 70 and 67 yards, respectively. The 67-yarder came off a lateral to Desmond Gee, in which Gee lateraled back to Dasher and he then took it to the end zone. Dasher also threw for two touchdowns in the same half to sophomore Sancho McDonald and senior Patrick Honeycutt.
Dasher finished the game with 178 yards and two scores on the ground and he became the first MTSU quarterback to rush for over 700 yards in a season. He now has 703. The previous record was 594 by Marvin Collier set 24 years ago. He also became the first Blue Raider quarterback to throw for over 2,000 yards and rush for 500 in the same campaign. He has thrown for 2,029 yards this season.
He finished the evening against Florida International passing 13 of 28 for 182 yards and two scores.
“We came in ready to take it to them,” junior wide receiver Garrett Andrews said. “Just like we do every week, we were ready to air it out or keep it on the ground. We made plays as a team. The offensive line is making holes like I have never seen before. If they keep doing it, we will make it right.”
During the third quarter, Dasher threw three picks and FIU cut the advantage down to 34-21. The last Dasher interception came with 3:51 left in the quarter.
During that drive, on third down at the FIU 45, senior linebacker Cam Robinson sacked FIU junior quarterback Wayne Younger for a 13-yard loss. Younger replaced regular starter senior Paul McCall in the starting lineup. McCall missed the loss with an injury.
Dasher then led the Blue Raiders down the field, which included a leaping 29-yard catch by senior Chris McClover to the FIU 1. Two plays later, Dasher scored from a yard out to put the game out of reach.
“We kept hanging in there,” Stockstill said. “Our whole team has got a great mental attitude of not giving up.”
About halfway through the final quarter, Dasher came out of the game with what Stockstill described as a “lower body” injury.
When asked about his status for this week’s game during Tuesday’s press conference, Stockstill responded “I think he will be fine. I don’t see any reason why he won’t be able to play on Saturday.”
ULL has defeated the Blue Raiders during five out of the last six meetings. MTSU’s last win came in 2006, but the Ragin’ Cajuns have won the last three games played at Floyd Stadium, including a 57-51 loss in four overtimes in 2003.
ULL (5-4, 3-2) comes into the game fourth in the conference and one win from becoming bowl eligible. Earlier this season, the Ragin’ Cajuns knocked off Big 12 member Kansas State 17-15.
McDonald said it will take hard work to stay in contention for the SBC title.
“We just need to keep working hard day after day. It will pay off in the long run.”
Kickoff is set for 3:15 p.m. and the game will be shown on CSS.
The Blue Raiders will honor the Armed Services and the Veterans during Saturday’s game. MTSU players will wear an insignia on their helmets honoring the 278th Armored Cavalry out of Knoxville until they return from Iraq.