Blue Raiders shock the Yellow Jackets

At some point, I'll write an official postgame story, but this is more of an instant reaction blog. That's more out of practicality than laziness, but at this point I'm far too pumped to truly examine this game. But then again I think most Blue Raider fans are too pumped to read a run of the mill breakdown, so … here we go.

This was the most perfectly-timed win in Middle Tennessee history … even more than the final regular-season game against FIU in 2010 to earn bowl eligibility.

This was a team reeling from last season. The opener didn't help matters as people questioned every move the team had made since the final moments of 2011 graciously ticked off the clock.

Follow that with wins over terrible FAU and Memphis teams and I've been saying for weeks that nobody has any idea what this team has to offer. Incorrectly, I assumed we still wouldn't know until next week when the Blue Raiders host ULM for homecoming. I've never been happier to be wrong.

Benny Cunningham single-handedly outscored the high-paced Georgia Tech offense. Logan Kilgore looked every bit of the three year starter he is. Anthony Amos continued to show that he can be a solid number one receiver. And Kyle Griswould introduced himself as a dynamic playmaker who can grind hard for extra yards play after play.

On the defensive side of the ball, Kenneth Gilstrap's amazing interception thrilled Blue Raider fans who have waited for his potential to turn into production. If he never does anything else in his career, that play might make some consider it worth the scholarship.

Leighton Gasque picked up where he left off last season with two perfectly-timed sacks of Ga. Tech quarterback Tevin Washington. T.T. Barber and Craig Allen both showed that they deserve to be on the field as true freshman and Jimmy Staten showed that he still has plenty left in the tank.

All in all, the Blue Raiders showed that they can play a complete football game. This is me admitting that I was wrong in the fact that the defense couldn't get it done against the Yellow Jacket offense. Yes they gave up 28 points, but they kept one of the most proficient offenses in the country to less than their average points and rushing yards per game.

As for the offense … wow. What am I supposed to focus on here? Cunningham's career-defining performance of 217 rushing yards and five scores? His 60-yard touchdown run? His 23-yard run through half of the Georgia Tech secondary?

And what about the rest of the offense? After an early interception, quarterback Logan Kilgore settled in and led the offense with a poised approach that kept the Blue Raiders calm when they needed to maintain the flow. Amos had himself a potential ESPN Top 10 play and Griswould wrestled his way into Blue Raider fans' hearts as he earned a hard-fought 59 yards.

Oh yeah, and I'd be a terrible person if I didn't mention the offensive line that provided Kilgore with all the protection he could ever want and Cunningham with blocking good enough for his career day. The young, patchwork O-line came into the game with a combined 30 starts. They're now leaving Atlanta having proved themselves against the best defense they've faced this season.

Even with two turnovers and a few missed opportunities, this Middle Tennessee team looked more complete than they have since 2009. Perhaps Tyrone Nix has found a winning formula with his crop of young defensive players. It seems like Buster Faulkner has definitely found a groove that works with a young offensive line and a receiving core that started the season looking for playmakers.

It's going to be a pretty exciting season if today is any indication. The Sun Belt is wide open and has several teams that have stood to the nation so far this season … none more so than ULM, who the Blue Raiders host next week for homecoming. That one is now shaping up to be the premier conference game of the year. Already.

Make sure to stay tuned to BlueRaiderZone.com for the next week as we break down this win and all the implications going forward.

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