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Blue Raiders drop 40-20 contest at North Carolina

Kilgore moves to fourth all-time in career passing yardage

September 7, 2013 · @MTAthletics

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Middle Tennessee picked up momentum in the second half, but a comeback fell short as the Blue Raiders dropped a 40-20 decision to North Carolina on Saturday in front of 48,000 fans at Kenan Stadium.

MT (1-1) made an impressive opening drive by moving down the field 68 yards. A strong goal-line stand and interception by Carolina (1-1) prevented the Raiders from scoring first. UNC then used 326 yards from their fast-paced offense in the first half to take a 23-point lead at the break.

The Blue Raiders never gave up as Middle Tennessee outscored North Carolina 13-to-3 to cut the deficit to 26-13 with 12 minutes left. However, North Carolina reeled off two touchdowns to take the victory.

Offensively, the Raiders put together 401 yards on 83 plays, while Carolina accumulated 511 yards on 77 snaps. Turnovers hampered the Raiders as MT threw three interceptions and lost a fumble.

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Signal caller Logan Kilgore completed 21 of 35 attempts for 211 yards. Kilgore surpassed Dwight Dasher on the all-time career yardage list for fourth place, now totaling 5,697 yards in his four seasons. Tavarres Jefferson set a new career-high with seven grabs for 101 yards. Kyle Griswould snagged seven passes for 65 yards.

Sophomore tailback Jordan Parker gained 109 yards in 22 attempts, including busting out for a 22-yard score. Parker has reached the 100-yard plateau in five of his last six games. 

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T.T. Barber led the defense with nine stops, followed by Kevin Byard's seven tackles.Linebacker Leighton Gasque notched his 12th career sack in the first half, tying him for sixth all-time at Middle Tennessee. The Hiram, Ga., product completed his day with six tackles, a sack and a forced fumble.

Jared Singletary collected five tackles and a fumble return for a 25-yard touchdown. It marked the first fumble return TD for the Raiders since Rod Issac scampered 100 yards against WKU in 2010. 

On the opening drive, MT drove down the field 68 yards. Kilgore fired a 20-yard would-be touchdown to Griswould. However, it was later ruled out at the one-yard line. Two plays later, Kilgore was picked off by UNC safety Dominique Green to prevent a Blue Raider score.

The Tar Heels capitalized on the turnover, driving 80 yards in 1:45. UNC tailback Romar Morris ran for a 26-yard touchdown to put the Heels up 6-0. UNC's two-point conversion was stopped short by the Raider defense. UNC QB Bryn Renner's 59-yard strike to Mark McNeil setup a one-yard rushing TD by Renner on fourth down to put the Tar Heels up by 13.

Middle Tennessee gained 85 yards on 20 plays in the opening quarter, while UNC had 138 yards on 15 plays during the first quarter.

To start the second quarter, UNC picked up another interception as thanks to corner Tim Scott. Middle Tennessee shifted the momentum for a few minutes when Sammy Seamster grabbed his first career interception from UNC's Renner. It snapped Renner's 140 pass attempts without an interception. But the Raiders were left unable to capitalize on the opportunity.

Later in the second quarter, Romar Morris capped a seven-play 82-yard drive to put the Tar Heels up 20 with under five minutes remaining. Carolina used a 39-yard field goal to put the Heels up 23 at the break.

Middle Tennessee was held to 99 yards on 31 plays in the first half, while UNC mustered 42 plays and 326 yards offensively. Kilgore was 8-of-11 for 41 yards and two interceptions. Parker, a sophomore tailback, led the rushing attack with 46 yards on 12 carries.

The Blue Raider offense opened the second half by driving down 68 yards to score a touchdown. Parker, a sophomore, broke the scoreless trend with a 22-yard rushing touchdown at 10:36.

Darien Rankin collected the Tar Heels third interception to stop a Blue Raider drive deep in UNC territory. The Heels added a field goal to take a 26-7 edge with 3:06 left in the third. Middle Tennessee completed the third quarter with 143 yards and a touchdown, holding UNC to 46 yards.

The Raiders received new life when Gasque's forced fumble allowed Singletary to run back 25 yards to cut North Carolina's lead to 26-13 with 12:54 remaining. 

Carolina later added a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter. MT redshirt freshman Austin Grammer found Chris Perkins in the final minute for a 12-yard pass to make it a 40-20 contest. 

Middle Tennessee returns to Floyd Stadium for a contest against in-state rival Memphis next Saturday, Sept. 14. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. and will air regionally on CSS.

GAME NOTES

CAPTAINS: Today's game captains were Jacob Corbaley, Stephen Roberts and Kyle Griswould.

GASQUE ANOTHER SACK: Junior Leighton Gasque recorded his first quarterback of the season in the second quarter. Gasque ran his career total to 12 and is now tied for sixth on the all-time list.

SEAMSTER GETS PICK: Senior Sammy Seamster registered his first career interception midway through the second quarter. The interception was the first for UNC QB Bryn Renner in 140 pass attempts, which was third longest active streak in nation. It went down as the third interception of the season.

SINGLETARY FOR SIX: Sophomore Jared Singletary had the first touchdown of his collegiate career when he scooped up a fumble in the fourth quarter and returned it 25 yards for the score. It marked the first fumble return for a touchdown by Middle Tennessee since Rod Issac went 100 yards against WKU on November 20, 2010.

JEFFERSON TOPS 100: WR Tavarres Jefferson registered his first collegiate 100-yard receiving game in the loss to UNC. Jefferson finished with seven receptions for a career-high 101 yards and tallied the 19th 100-yard receiving game under Rick Stockstill.

PARKER OVER 100: Sophomore Jordan Parker registered his sixth career 100-yard rushing game with 109 yards on 22 attempts against the Tar Heels. Parker now has five 100-yard rushing games over his last six outings.

QUICK HITTERS: WR Kyle Griswould made his team-leading 17th straight start today ... This is the ninth straight season Middle Tennessee has faced a team from the ACC ... Kyle Griswould has now caught at least one pass in 24 straight games which ties Matt Lowe for the fifth longest in school history ... Tavarres Jefferson has made at least one reception in 15 straight games ... Reggie Whatley, who ranked 4th nationally last year in kickoff return average, had his first return of the season in the first quarter and brought it back 44 yards ... DT Jimmy Staten, P Josh Davis, and OL Josh Walker all played in their 38th career games which is tops on the team ... Jordan Parker registered his fifth career rushing touchdown and second of the season when he went 22 yards in the third quarter ... LB Stephen Roberts had the first sack of his career in the third quarter to help stop a UNC drive ... With 211 passing yards, Logan Kilgore surpassed Dwight Dasher for fourth on the all-time list.

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