It was Senior Day at Floyd Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 21, and 28 seniors bid their farewell to the fans in attendance. Of course, no senior student-athlete wants to lose in their final homestand, and no underclassmen teammates want to see that happen, either. Against the North Texas Mean Green, seniors and underclassmen alike made sure that the Blue Raiders walked away with a huge 41-7 victory.
It was the usual suspects who got in a rhythm early, as freshman phenom tandem Brent Stockstill and Richie James connected three times for 20 yards on the first possession of the game. However, it was Austin Grammer who came in at quarterback in the red zone and scored on a 19-yard option run.
The first possession set the tone for the rest of the quarter. Stockstill finished the first quarter completing all of his first 13 attempts, and broke a couple records to boot. He broke the Conference USA record for most passing yards by a freshman, and the MT record for most passing touchdowns in a single season. While Stockstill certainly made his first-quarter success look easy, don’t expect him to take credit for that.
“That was the coaching staff and the receivers. I got the ball out of my hand pretty quick, you know, we had some nice designed plays there,” he said.
Stockstill only built on his first-quarter success, eventually eclipsing 300 passing yards for the seventh time this season. In just his freshman year, Stockstill has already tied the MT career mark for most 300-yard passing games. Brent’s performance garnered C-USA Offensive Player of the Week honors.
Likewise, James built on his early success, finishing the game with 11 catches for 98 yards. Those totals bring James just seven receptions from 100 on the year, and 149 yards from catching Kerry Wright’s single-season record of 1,280.
It wasn’t just the young standouts getting it done for MT. Not only was Ed Batties honored for Senior Day, but it also happened to coincide with his birthday. Batties received a birthday present from Stockstill in the form of a touchdown reception. Already having broken the MT single-season record for touchdown receptions, Batties expanded the record to 13.
Then there was that moment late in the third quarter when Blue Raider fans got what they had long been awaiting. After missing two and a half games due to injury, Kevin Byard got interception number 18, breaking the 33-year-old MT career record held by James Griffin. After a 27-yard run and a brief post-play celebration, Byard found his father on the sidelines and handed the intercepted game ball to him.
The whole team had cause for celebration after the game as well. This win marked the sixth win of the season for MT, making them bowl-eligible. However, as coach Stockstill will remind you, the team’s goal was not becoming bowl-eligible, but to actually go to a bowl. They will keep that in mind when they travel this Saturday to play the University of Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners.
The Roadrunners are much like North Texas in that they are a team with more talent than their record suggests. In fact, UTSA has lost four games by a single touchdown or less, meaning they are just four plays away from being 7-4 instead of 3-8.
The Roadrunners are led by a national championship-winning coach in Larry Coker, whose Miami Hurricanes won the NCAA title in 2001 and came one controversial play short of repeating the feat in 2002. Much like his Miami teams, Coker’s Roadrunners are predicated on a ball-control offense and an aggressive defense.
Jarveon Williams serves as the workhorse in the backfield, having rushed for over 1,000 yards this season while averaging 6.0 yards per carry. Coach Stockstill describes Williams as a “special” back with deceptive elusiveness for his size.
Defensively, MT will have to keep an eye out for Jason Neill. Neill is a defensive lineman who not only is a proficient pass rusher (8.5 sacks, second most in C-USA), but also is a disruptive force, having notched 11 tackles for loss on the season.
In the brief four-year history of their program, UTSA has yet to lose a home finale. MTSU will most likely need to break that trend if they plan on realizing their goal of making their way into a bowl game.
The kickoff is slated for Saturday, Nov. 28, at 2:30 p.m. CT. You can catch the action on Fox College Sports.