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Clark's game-winner lifts Blue Raiders past UAB

MT collects third fourth quarter comeback win this season

November 2, 2013 · @MTAthletics

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Cody Clark's game-winning field goal with seven seconds remaining gave Middle Tennessee a thrilling 24-21 victory over UAB at Legion Field on Saturday.

The Blue Raiders (5-4, 3-2 C-USA) trailed 10-7 in the third, but used 17 fourth quarter points to pick up the comeback win. Three of Middle Tennessee's victories, Memphis, Marshall and UAB, have come in the fourth quarter. MT also has an overtime win over Florida Atlantic this season. 

Trailing 13-7 with 9:41 remaining, Logan Kilgore found Marcus Henry for a 93-yard reception to give the Raiders' the go-ahead advantage. MT padded their lead when Stephen Roberts returned an interception for a 40-yard touchdown.

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UAB (2-6, 1-2 C-USA) drove down the field 70 yards and used a 21-yard Jonathan Perry touchdown pass to Jamarcus Nelson to make it a 21-19 contest. Perry converted the two points to tie the contest. 

Reggie Whatley's 33-yard rush put the Raiders in UAB territory. Two plays later, Kilgore once again found Henry for a 33-yard reception, putting MT at the one-yard line with seven seconds remaining. Clark, a native of Watkinsville, Ga., nailed the 18-yard field goal to give MT's its' second consecutive final seconds victory.

Kilgore finished the game 11-of-22 with two touchdowns, an interception and 160 yards. The 93-yard pass was the longest of the redshirt senior's career. Henry set a personal-best 136 yards on five catches and a touchdown.

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Whatley set a new career record with 155 yards on 15 carries. The redshirt junior averaged 10.3 yards per carry, surpassing his previous best of 154 at Florida Atlantic earlier this year.

Defensively, T.T. Barber led the Raiders with nine stops. Kevin Byard followed with eight tackles. Roberts had seven tackles with his first career interception return for a touchdown.

In total, the Blue Raiders put together 429 yards of total offense on 57 plays. UAB was held to 356 yards on 65 plays, despite dominating the time of possession 38:39 to 21:21.

Defense was key for both teams in the first half with UAB scoring the only points in the opening quarter. The Blazer offense ran on the first 14 plays and it capitalized when Darrin Reaves scored a 20-yard touchdown to put UAB up 7-0 with 3:25 left in the opening quarter.

The Blazers did not attempt a pass until 3:48 left in the first half, ending a streak of 26 consecutive runs to open the game.

In the first half, UAB ran 29 times for 186 yards. MT put together 167 yards of total offense with 144 coming from the ground. Whatley had 58 yards on the ground, followed by Jeremiah Bryson with 57 yards. Kilgore was 4-of-9 with an interception for 13 yards.

UAB took a 10-point lead when Ty Long nailed a 37-yard field goal to cap a six minute drive for the Blazers. Whatley's 29-yard run put the Blue Raiders in the redzone. Kilgore found Kyle Griswould for a three-yard touchdown to cut MT's deficit to 10-7 with 5:18 left in the third quarter.

Long added more insurance for UAB with his 50-yard field goal, giving the Blazers a 13-7 lead with 14-plus minutes remaining.

The Blue Raiders took their first lead when Kilgore found Henry for a 93-yard strike. The touchdown pass was the fourth longest in school history and career marks for both Kilgore and Henry.

Roberts helped the Raiders gain breathing with a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown to put MT up 21-13 with just six-plus minutes remaining. The interception TD was the first for Roberts and the first for MT since Byard returned one against Troy in 2012.

UAB drove back 70 yards in 4:29, tying the game with a 21 yard touchdown pass from Perry to Nelson. UAB's two-point conversion succeeded to tie the game with just 1:50 left in the game.

From there, the Raiders drove down 74 yards, using a 33-yard reception from Henry to set up a game-winning 18-yard field goal from Clark.

Middle Tennessee returns to the friendly confines of Floyd Stadium next Saturday, Nov. 9 for a 3 p.m. CT matchup against FIU. The game is televised on the Fox College Sports network.

NOTES

CAPTAINS: Today's game captains were Jimmy Staten, Jesse Grisham and Reggie Whatley.

200 AGAIN: For the fourth time this season, Middle Tennessee topped the 200-yard mark in rushing with 259 yards on 34 carries despite playing without leading rusher Jordan Parker. It marked the 30th time under Stockstill the Blue Raiders have gone over 200 yards and the 22nd since 2009.

TUCKER SHOWING: True freshman Shane Tucker had his redshirt lifted against UAB. Tucker entered the game in the third quarter and gained 14 yards on four carries and had a reception on his first career drive. Tucker finished with 18 yards rushing.

BACK-TO-BACK: Junior Reggie Whatley enjoyed his third career 100-yard rushing game and his second in as many weeks. Whatley rushed for career-best 155 yards on 15 carries against the Blazers. Whatley had 154 yards at FAU earlier this year and 104 yards on the ground last week in win over Marshall.

NOT MANY PASSING YARDS: Middle Tennessee held UAB to just 57 passing yards on the afternoon, which ranks second fewest in the Blue Raider FBS era only behind North Texas' 23 passing yards in 2011.

LONG DISTANCE: QB Logan Kilgore connected with Marcus Henry on a 93-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. It went down as the fourth longest pass play in school history and the longest for Kilgore. It was also the longest reception in Henry's career.

90-YARD DRIVES: The 93-yard scoring drive in the fourth quarter was the 16th scoring drive of 90 or more yards under Rick Stockstill. It ranked as the 12th longest scoring drive in the Stockstill era. Of the 16 90-yard drives under Stockstill, nine have been engineered by Logan Kilgore.

CAREER DAY FOR HENRY: Junior Marcus Henry registered the first 100-yard receiving game of his career with 136 yards on five catches against UAB. Henry's previous high was 75 yards in a road win at Georgia Tech in 2012.

ROBERTS PICK SIX: Senior Stephen Roberts picked off his second career pass against UAB Saturday and returned it 40 yards for a touchdown. It marked the first score of Roberts' career and the first time MT has brought an interception back for a TD since Kevin Byard against Troy in 2012.

QUICK HITTERS: MT wore a new uniform combo today with blue pants, white jersey and white helmet ... WR Kyle Griswould made his team-leading 24th straight start today ... Kyle Griswould has now caught at least one pass in 31 straight games which ranks third longest in school history ... DT Jimmy Staten, P Josh Davis, and OL Josh Walker all played in their 45th career games which is tops on the team ... Starters Dearco Nolan and Jordan Parker did not play today due to injuries ... Kenneth Gilstrap, who started at CB, had a 23-yard run on a reverse on offense ... Punter Josh Davis hit a season long 70-yard punt and the second longest of his career.

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