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Raiders topple Marshall in final seconds, 51-49

Kilgore finds Jefferson for game-winning touchdown

October 24, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO - Logan Kilgore found Tavarres Jefferson for a game-winning nine-yard touchdown in the final three seconds to carry Middle Tennessee to a 51-49 victory over Marshall in front of 19,898 for the annual Blackout game at Floyd Stadium.

The two teams combined for 100 points and over 1,000 yards in a classic Conference USA shootout that aired nationally on FS1. After trading blows the entire game, Marshall (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) took a 49-45 lead with less than three minutes remaining thanks to a Essray Taliaferro two-yard touchdown. 

The Raiders (4-4, 2-2 C-USA) used the final 2:29 to march down 79 yards on 12 plays. Kilgore converted a critical fourth down play with an 18-yard strike to Jefferson. With just three ticks left, he found Jefferson again in the end zone to give Middle Tennessee the thrilling victory. It was the first last-second win for MT since toppling Maryland in 2009. 

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Football vs. Marshall
Middle Tennessee put together 585 yards of offense on a school-record 100 snaps. Marshall compiled 448 yards on 87 plays. Both teams committed a turnover and interception each.

Kilgore connected on 22 passes on 40 attempts with four touchdowns and an interception for 277 yards. The redshirt senior completed his 18th career 200-yard passing game, tying Wes Counts and Clint Marks for the most in school history. Jefferson led the wideout corps with seven grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown.

The Blue Raider tailback tandem of Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley each recorded over 100 yards. Parker ran 21 times on the ground for 127 yards and a touchdown. Whatley racked up a career-best 104 yards on 16 attempts.

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Middle Tennessee opened the game with a 16-yard touchdown strike from Kilgore to Kyle Griswould. Marshall struck back on the next possession with a 39 yard passing touchdown from Rakeem Cato to Jazz King to tie the game with 8:47 left in the opening frame.

Special teams stepped up big midway through the first quarter when Chris Brown recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to put the Raiders up 14-7.

Marshall bounced back with a pair of consecutive touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead late into the second quarter. In the final seconds of the half, Reggie Whatley belted runs for 19 yards and 28 yards that would make way for a 16-yard strike from Kilgore to Christian Collis for his first TD grab of the year.

Both teams were near even at the half with Marshall accumulating 255 yards on 49 plays, while MT had 233 in 40 snaps. Kilgore was 9-of-17 with two touchdowns and an interception for 107 yards. Cato completed 11 passes out of 24 attempts with an interception for 168 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

MT took a 28-21 advantage after marching down 75 yards in 11 plays to open the third. Parker got the TD nod with a one-yard scamper at the 12:37 mark. The Herd quickly answered 1:23 later as Kevin Grooms hammered in a one-yard touchdown to tie the game.

The scoring frenzy continued when Kilgore rushed up the middle to cap a 75-yard drive, giving MT a 35-28 edge. Cody Clark hammered a 37-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 10-point edge in the third quarter. The Thundering Herd used prime field position to score a touchdown and cut MT's lead to 38-35.

The two squads once again traded touchdown blows to make it a 45-42 score with 8:17 left in the contest. Marshall's Taliaferro scampered in for a two-yard touchdown to give MU a 49-45 edge with 2:29 remaining. Kilgore's TD pass to Jefferson capped a night of offensive scoring, giving the Raiders a season-best in points and total offense.

Cato finished the day 19-for-35 with 235 yards and three touchdowns for the Herd, while Taliaffero led MU with 134 yards and two touchdowns in 24 attempts.

MT returns to action next on Nov. 2 at UAB. The Noon broadcast will be televised on Fox Sports South.

NOTES

CAPTAINS: Tonight's game captains were Craig Allen, Jacob Corbaley and Leighton Gasque.

BROWN BLOCKS, SCORES: Freshman Chris Brown recorded his first career blocked kick and touchdown of his collegiate career against Marshall. Brown came from the right side and blocked a Marshall punt, picked it up and returned it three yards for the score. It marked the second blocked punt of the season for MT.

ANOTHER BLOCK: Middle Tennessee recorded its 28th blocked kick under Rick Stockstill when Chris Brown rejected a Herd punt in the first quarter. It was the second block of the season as Kenneth Gilstrap had a blocked punt at FAU. Overall under Stockstill, there have been 14 blocked field goals, 11 punts and three PATs.

MR. TURNOVER: Sophomore Kevin Byard has a knack of forcing turnovers for the Blue Raiders. In 20 career games played, Byard has forced or gained 10 turnovers (7 Interceptions, 2 forced fumbles and 1 fumble recovery). In 2013, Byard has three interceptions and a fumble recovery in eight games.

KILGORE TIES RECORD: Quarterback Logan Kilgore topped the 200-yard passing mark for the 18th time in his career tonight and fourth time this season. Kilgore finished with 277 yards on 22 completions. The 18 games ties Wes Counts and Clint Marks for the all-time school record.

PARKER TOPS 100: Sophomore Jordan Parker turned in his eighth career 100-yard rushing game and the fourth of the season when he powered for 127 yards against Marshall. Parker's eight 100-yard games ranks ninth all-time at MT with the career record being 18 by three different players.

100 FOR WHATLEY: Junior Reggie Whatley went over 100 yards rushing for the second time in his career with 105 yards against Marshall. Whatley had a career-best 154 yards earlier this season at FAU.

QUICK HITTERS: Under Rick Stockstill, MT has now scored a TD on its opening drive of the game 23 times ... DL Jimal McBride recorded his first career sack in the first quarter ... WR Kyle Griswould made his team-leading 23rd straight start today ... Kyle Griswould has now caught at least one pass in 30 straight games which ranks third longest in school history ... DT Jimmy Staten, P Josh Davis, and OL Josh Walker all played in their 44th career games which is tops on the team ... WR Christian Collis had his first TD reception of the season against Marshall and the third of his career ... Anfornee Stewart played in his first career game tonight after missing the first seven contests with an injury ... MT scored the most points in a conference game since tallying 48 against FIU on Nov. 7, 2009.

QUOTES

Middle Tennessee Head Coach Rick Stockstill

On tonight's game...

I can't say enough about our players, our coaches, our whole team tonight. It was a heck of a college football game, both teams battled their tails off and we were able to make a play at the end, but we really competed well.

On the running game tonight...

When you get as much man coverage like we did tonight the players have to make plays, but our offensive line really played well tonight. We were able to dominate them at times up front and that's really what propelled us tonight and that dominance was what gave me the confidence to go for it on fourth down so many times tonight. We had three possessions in the first half where we stopped ourselves, but we were really pretty good in the first half too. We just didn't hurt ourselves as much in the second half. I also thought that touchdown right before halftime gave us a lot of momentum for the second half.

On special teams...

The wind was really bad down on the field, so it was a little difficult to get the ball kicked off a couple times. We had a great return by Reggie Whatley there towards the end of the game that could've iced it for us, but it gets brought back because of a holding penalty. So we have some things we need to get fixed on special teams, but we can get them fixed and we'll go to work on those this week.

WR Tavarres Jefferson

On tonight's game...

We talked all week about making practice carry over to the game. The last six practices were probably the toughest that we've had all year. We know we can be really good we just have to limit mistakes

On having such a big game...

Anytime there's a big game like this, black out on television, you have to rise to the occasion. We knew the running game could do what we did tonight. We just had to get a couple guys healthy and we were able to do that. Marshall is a good team, but we know we're a good team too. We had to stop beating ourselves and making mistakes and we knew we could beat a good team and we beat a good team tonight.

On the game winning catch...

We put (Terry) Pettis in there to have a big body on the end to throw the jump pass, but coach told me to go to the end zone and turn around because he knew they were going to have bracket coverage on me. When I got to the end zone, I saw Logan's (Kilgore) eyes get real big and he was looking at me so I just made the play.

QB Logan Kilgore

On tonight's game...

This win means so much to me and the team. We put in a great week of practice and preparation and were able to come out and execute tonight and ultimately get the win.

On getting to play tonight...

It was a tough week this week that's for sure. It's easy to point fingers after a game like North Texas, but I really just looked at myself and tried to figure out what I could do to help this team succeed. I'm so glad I get to be this team's quarterback. They really responded tonight and that's what we needed to get the bad taste out of our mouth from the last couple weeks. We really focused this last week in practice and we'll have to do that again next week, but this is a huge win and I was glad I could be apart of it.

Marshall Head Coach Doc Holliday

On tonight's game...

We battled back and tried to find a way to win and give them credit; they found a way to win. We didn't. The defense made some plays. They had an opportunity to make a couple more there at the end and just couldn't find a way to get it done.

On special team play...

The two things were on punt. I thought the rest of it was good. Punt return was good. Kick return was good. Kickoff, they brought one back, but there was a penalty on that play. We've got to get that punt team together. They've got to be better.

On Marshall's defense...

We didn't stop the run. We went in there to try and stop the run and we couldn't do that. They were able to run and they made a couple of big plays late in the passing game.

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