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Raiders handle Miners 48-17 in regular season finale

MT records its second-straight eight-win season

November 30, 2013 · @MTAthletics

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Middle Tennessee football team (8-4, 6-2 C-USA) closed out the regular season Saturday evening, cruising to a 48-17 victory over UTEP (2-10, 1-7 C-USA) as the Blue Raiders celebrated Senior Day and marking the first time since 1992 MT has posted two consecutive seasons with eight or more wins.

November has proven to be a successful month for the Blue Raiders as the victory over the Miners is the seventh-straight November win for Middle Tennessee. Under head coach Rick Stockstill, the Raiders are 19-10 all-time in November. MT has been undefeated during the month for the last two seasons with the last loss coming Nov. 26, 2011 against FIU via a 31-18 decision at home.

MT's 6-2 record in league play during in its inaugural Conference USA season ties the Blue Raiders for second place in the C-USA East Division standings.

The Blue Raiders jumped all over the Miners early, scoring 17 first-quarter points behind an efficient Logan Kilgore, who completed seven of his nine passes, including a 21-yard touchdown strike to Marcus Henry for the opening score of the contest.

The explosive MT offense continued to pull away before intermission as Jeremiah Bryson scampered in from 10 yards out, Kilgore hooked up with Tavarres Jefferson for a 25-yard score and Cody Clark capped the first-half scoring with a 26-yard field goal to give the Blue Raiders a commanding 34-7 halftime advantage.

MT opened the second half looking to put the game away as it took the opening kickoff 75 yards on three plays to jump in front 41-7. A 69-yard reception by Kyle Griswould highlighted the scoring drive and Bryson walked in from six yards out to cap the score.

After a pair of UTEP scores, the Blue Raiders put one final exclamation mark on the regular season, when Jordan Parker broke free for a 36-yard touchdown run to give MT all the offense it would need in a 48-17 victory.

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Kilgore finished the contest 19-for-27 for 325 yards and two touchdowns for his program-record 20th 200-yard passing game, while Bryson added 120 yards on the ground and two scores. Griswould's 69-yard reception propelled him to 101 yards on five catches to lead all MT receivers.

The Blue Raiders finished with a season-high 629 yards of total offense and went 11-for-16 on third downs and a perfect 5-for-5 in red zone scoring chances.

With an eight-win season, Middle Tennessee awaits word on a bowl invitation.

GAME NOTES

CAPTAINS: Today's game captains were Leighton Gasque, Isaiah Anderson and Alexandro Antoine.

EIGHT IS GREAT: Middle Tennessee picked up its eighth win of the season with today's victory over UTEP to mark the first time since 1992 a Blue Raider team has had consecutive eight or more win seasons. It is just the fourth time in the FBS era (since 1999) MT has won eight or more games in a season. In 99 total seasons of football, this marks the 23rd time the Blue Raiders have collected eight or more wins.

KILGORE FIRST IN SCHOOL HISTORY: With 325 passing yards against UTEP on Saturday, senior signal-caller Logan Kilgore became the first player in school history to throw for 2,000 or more yards in three consecutive seasons. Kilgore had 2,231 yards in 2011, 2,571 yards in 2012 and now has 2,289 yards in 2013.

BIG DAY FOR BRYSON: Sophomore Jeremiah Bryson turned in his second straight career-high rushing performance with 120 yards on 15 carries in the win over UTEP. Bryson, who had a personal-best 49-yard run, became the fifth different player to top 100 yards for the Blue Raiders this season.

NO. 20: In his home finale, quarterback Logan Kilgore added to his Middle Tennessee record by tallying his 20th career 200-yard passing game. Kilgore finished with 325 yards on 19 completions and two touchdowns, which was the fourth 300-yard game of his career.

7 STRAIGHT: Middle Tennessee won its seventh straight November game with today's win over UTEP. The Blue Raiders are now 19-10 all-time in November under Rick Stockstill.

OVER 200 ... AGAIN: Middle Tennessee rushed for over 200 yards for the fifth straight game as it rolled up 304 yards in the win over UTEP. That goes down as the 33rd 200-yard rushing game under Rick Stockstill and the 25th since 2009. MT has topped 200 yards seven times total this season.

GRISWOULD GETS 100: Kyle Griswould made the most of his senior day by recording the third 100-yard receiving game of his career. Griswould hauled in five passes for 101 yards for just the Blue Raiders' third 100-yard game of the year. Griswould's last 100-yard game came against UNT in 2012.

QUICK HITTERS: MT honored 24 seniors during a pregame ceremony ... Today's uniform combo of blue jersey, black pants and black helmets marked the 17th different combination under Stockstill ... MT scored a touchdown on its opening drive of the game for the 25th time under Stockstill ... With 325 passing yards today, Logan Kilgore surpassed Clint Marks for second place on the all-time yardage list ... WR Kyle Griswould made his team-leading 27th straight start today ... Kyle Griswould has now caught at least one pass in 34 straight games, which ranks as the second longest streak in school history ... DT Jimmy Staten, P Josh Davis and OL Josh Walker all played in their 48th career games, which is tops on the team ... Cody Clark connected on his fifth and sixth straight FGs, when he hit a 21-yarder in the first quarter and a 26-yarder in the second ... MT won a regular season finale for the first time since 2010 and its first regular season finale that was at home since 2002 (Utah State) ... Middle Tennessee put up a season-high 629 total yards of offense, which was the third highest under Stockstill.

QUOTES

MT Head Coach Rick Stockstill

On tonight's game...

I'm really proud of our team. We had a good week of practice. We battled through the cold this week and that says a lot about our team. We gave up an early touchdown, but for the most part I'm really proud of them. I'm really proud of our seniors and happy they were able to go out on a good note like this. I thought we played with a lot of passion today too and that's really good to see.

On bowl possibilities...

We'll worry about that in the next couple weeks. What we were worried about was finishing this season on a positive note and we were able to do that. It was a great win and we're very happy we were able to get that this week.

On senior QB Logan Kilgore's play today...

I thought he did a good job throwing the ball. I thought he did a good job throwing the ball away at times today. We've done a great job in the turnover margin all year, but especially today. This is the first game we've won, when turning the ball over in the second half. We had that one interception there, but I think we did a great job overall protecting the ball and Logan was a big part of that.

On this year's seniors...

They have won eight games in a season now three times. They've been bowl eligible three out of four years. This a very good senior class; they've accomplished a lot and I'm very proud of them.

QB Logan Kilgore

On the tonight's game...

Anytime you put up 48 points and all those yards against a pretty good defense you have to feel happy. It's also a good way to go out for our seniors. They had something to play for today too. They have seniors too and I know they wanted to go out on a good note just like we did. But we executed well today and were able to get the victory. We've had a lot of guys step up. We've had some great offensive line play with guys like Josh Walker and we've also had guys like Corey Carmichael step up big.

On having so much family support...

It feels really good to have my family here. You're also not talking about walking across the street or driving across town. They're coming from California too, which is a pretty good trip. I've had a family member at every one of my games here so that's been really cool and I'm very happy to be able to say that.

OL Josh Walker

On tonight's game...

This is the most fun I've had playing football ever in my life. There's a great group of guys here that I've played with my whole career and this year has been very enjoyable. Logan is a great quarterback to play for both on and off the field.

On playing his last home game...

Honestly I was thinking most about UTEP this week, but yes it was in the back of my mind about playing my last game in Floyd Stadium this week. It's bitter sweet, I'm glad we came out and got the win. It's always good to end on a high note like this. I'll always be a Blue Raider and I'm very proud of my time here.

UTEP Head Coach Sean Kugler

On tonight's game...

It was kind of a rough season. We've got to work hard in recruiting. We've got to work hard on improving the players we do have. We've got to develop some younger players.

We're not discouraged. We're going to get right back on the recruiting trail this week. We're going to try and emulate some of the teams we've played the last few weeks. The Middle Tennessees, the North Texases, the Tulanes and the teams that have turned it around and have had tough times. We've got to put that type of work ethic in.

On improvements in the second half...

I thought the team came out and competed better in the second half. I thought those guys did a good job of going out and having fun in the second half. I felt they played hard. I had no problem with their effort in the second half.

In the first half, we just shot ourselves in the foot too many times. We made way too many mistakes offensively and didn't do a good job of stopping them on defense.

Hats off to Middle Tennessee. They outperformed us in every phase, and we have a long way to go.

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