The Blue Raiders had more than one foe to face last Saturday in Boca Raton when they faced off against FAU. Torrential rains poured down on both teams for most of the first quarter, and came and went through the rest of the game. However, it didn’t do much to slow the MT offense.
“The elements were incredible! It affected the game. The way our guys played, the way they competed, we had a 300-yard passer, a 100-yard rusher, we almost had a 200-yard receiver in the game; to be able to do that, in those conditions, was pretty incredible,” Coach Stockstill stated.
Still, with those numbers, one may think this was a blowout, but in truth this one was a hard-fought contest to the end.
FAU jumped out to an early first-quarter lead after Desmond Anderson fumbled on the MT 36-yard line on his lone carry of the game. However, Brent Stockstill and Richie James connected for a spectacular 69-yard TD pass on the ensuing possession to tie the game.
On the first play of FAU’s next possession, the Owls took a quick shot down field, only to have Michael Minter make one of the smartest defensive plays of the season. Minter layed out for the interception, he realized he had little chance of securing it himself and tipped it to the nearby Jamarcus Howard. Yet, MT was unable to capitalize, as they went a quick three and out on their following possession.
The Owls regained the lead once again early in the second quarter, but MT would go on to score 10 unanswered points to close out the first half, and carried a 17–14 lead into the third quarter.
After Stockstill threw a rare interception in the third quarter, FAU capitalized by kicking a field goal to knot the game up again. However, the tie did not stand for long, as Stockstill and James connected on another long TD pass of 62 yards to take a 24–17 lead.
Then, early in the fourth quarter, a strange swing of events took place. FAU quarterback Jaquez Johnson and wide receiver Jenson Stoshak connected for what appeared to be a 70-yard touchdown pass to tie the game, but Stoshak taunted MT safety Xavier Walker from the five yard line going into the endzone. Since the taunt occurred before he crossed the goal line, Stoshak was ruled down and the five and penalized for a personal foul. Walker was penalized as well after shoving Stoshak in the facemask, which ultimately put the ball back at the 10-yard line and set up first and goal for the Owls. The Blue Raiders seemingly had forced a fourth and goal on the 10-yard line, but a roughing the passer call after a third down incompletion gave FAU new life with first and goal from the five-yard line. Another four plays later, the MT defense stood strong once again, forcing a turnover on downs.
The MT defense would go on to stifle the Owls’ offense in the red zone on their next possession effectively ending FAU’s hopes for a comeback, and turning Jenson Stoshak into a scapegoat.
Richie James not only had a career day against FAU, but also broke the MT single-season receptions record set by Kerry Wright in 2004. James now sits at 81 receptions on the year, and has a realistic chance of topping 100 receptions on the year with two games left. James also is just 250 yards short of Wright’s team record of 1280 receiving yards set in 2003.
The Blue Raiders will look to fulfill their goal of bowl eligibility this weekend, as they return to Floyd Stadium to host North Texas.
North Texas’ season has certainly been an unstable one. They started their season under the leadership of Coach Dan McCarney, but after opening the season 0-4, and then losing their fifth straight to FCS opponent Portland State by 59 points, McCarney was dismissed.
Offensive coordinator Mike Canales has taken the reins since. While the team’s overall success has not changed drastically, they have been more competitive. With a 1–9 record, there isn’t much that jumps off the page while evaluating this game on paper, but games are played on the field.
“The thing that stands out is how hard they play, how they finish games,” Coach Stockstill said. “They’ve been out of games early in some games, and they play just as hard in those at the end as they did in the beginning.”
As this is the last home game of the season for MT, they will honor 28 of their seniors. Sadly, many of those key seniors will be questionable, at best, for their final game at Floyd, including Kevin Byard, Darius Johnson and Jeremiah Bryson.
Make sure you make good on your last chance of the year to catch a game at Floyd this Saturday Nov. 21. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m.