MTSU Comback Bid Comes Up Short in Loss to Missouri

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Photo by Matt Posey/ MT Athletic Communications
Photo by Matt Posey/ MT Athletic Communications

COLUMBIA, Mo. — Middle Tennessee football had chances late to snatch a win on the road but came up just short at Faurot Field on Saturday night, falling 23-19 to Missouri.

The Blue Raiders (0-2) gave up a field goal to the Tigers (2-0) in the first quarter, but struck back in the second, driving 86 yards down the field in 14 plays, taking 7:17 off the clock and capping the drive off with a three-yard touchdown pass to Kalani Norris, who drove himself into the endzone among three wide receiver blockers to take a 7-3 lead. The Tigers would add a touchdown late in the second half to take a 10-7 lead into the locker room at the break.

MTSU would tie the game with a 25-yard field goal from Zeke Rankin to start the second half but would find themselves down 13 points after back-to-back touchdown drives from the Tigers. But the Blue Raiders struck back in the fourth quarter, with Vattiato finding Justin Olson on fourth-and-goal from the 13-yard line for tough contested catch to cut the score to 23-17.

The defense then came up huge, as Sam Brumfield flew into the backfield off a QB spy and hit Missouri QB Brady Cook, who fumbled the football out of the side of the endzone for a safety, giving the Blue Raiders the ball back down just 23-19 with just under seven minutes to play. But the Blue Raiders ensuing drive ended in a turnover on downs, giving the ball back to the Tigers as the clocked winded down.

MTSU nearly got another crack at a comeback late, forcing a third and 21 thanks to some Missouri penalties, but the penalty flag would fly one last time, as a late defensive pass interference gave the Tigers a first down, which allowed Missouri to run out the rest of the clock.

By the Numbers
2: Blue Raiders scored their first touchdowns for the MTSU program after transferring from ACC programs.
9-for-18: Third down conversion rate for MTSU on Saturday. The last time the Blue Raiders converted at least 50 percent of their third down attempts was last season against UAB, when the Blue Raiders were 10-for-19 against the Blazers.
10: Blue Raiders who caught a pass against the Tigers. It’s the second game in a row the Blue Raiders have at least 10 players catch a pass.

Source: MTSU

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