The Blue Raiders traveled to San Antonio to take on the Roadrunners of UTSA, and they took a three-game win streak and bowl eligibility with them. However, MT needed one more win to ensure a bowl bid, and they did not disappoint.
As it has been throughout the season, it took MT a little time to settle in to the game. The Blue Raider offense suffered a quick three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, and then allowed UTSA to gain three first downs before finally forcing them to punt. Richie James opened the following possession with a 16-yard reception, but then gave the ball back to UTSA on a fumble. However, Middle Tennessee defensive tackle Shaq Huff forced and recovered a fumble himself on the ensuing possession, and that is where the tide turned for MT.
Shane Tucker got things started off for the Blue Raiders, breaking free for a 14-yard run to the end zone. It marked the first touchdown for Tucker in an injury-plagued season, but it wasn’t his only on the day as he got in once more in the third quarter. Three different running backs crossed the goal line before the final whistle blew, as Jordan Parker and Kamani Thomas each scored a touchdown on the day.
MT featured a more run-oriented offense than fans have seen in several weeks, but Brent Stockstill made the most of his opportunities. He completed all but six of his 30 pass attempts, and hit Terry Pettis on a short post for seven yards for a touchdown.
Richie James had another strong performance, catching seven passes for 85 yards. The seven receptions put James squarely at 100 on the year, while the yardage lands him just 60 yards shy of the MT single-season receiving yards record.
In his final conference game, Ed Batties had a pretty big day himself. He secured six receptions for 82 yards, and added 72 yards on just two kickoff returns, one of which went for 45 yards.
It wasn’t only the offense getting it done for the Blue Raiders though. Alex Dale came away with just his second career interception, but took it back to the house for a 34-yard touchdown. The Sergeant of Sack, Steven Rhodes, had the first multi-sack game of his career, having reached the quarterback twice. Then, of course, Kevin Byard added one more to his school-leading interception total with a fourth quarter pick. Byard also led the team in tackles with eight.
A shutout bid was spoiled late in the fourth quarter on a 31-yard touchdown pass, but MT walked away with a convincing 42-7 victory. Shortly after the game, the media was informed that the Blue Raiders had accepted an invitation to play in the Popeye’s Bahamas Bowl.
Western Michigan will play the foe against MT in the Bahamas Bowl. The game will kickoff on Christmas Eve at noon.