Middle Marches On

Middle Tennessee safety Kevin Byard was just 12 years old when the Blue Raiders last beat Troy. Running back Jordan Parker was 11. Both ended up playing important roles in Middle's 24-21 victory over the Trojans earlier today.

Byard's 77-yard interception returned for a touchdown gave Middle Tennessee the lead for good with just 5:48 left in the game. As if a game-winning pick six wasn't enough for one day, the redshirt freshman had another interception and a forced fumble on the day.

On the other side of the ball, Parker was the star. He accounted for 213 of Middle Tennessee's 328 total yards. The true freshman set a school record with a 98-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. He also had a 66-yard reception that came dangerously close to finding the endzone later in the half.

One must also mention kicker Carlos Lopez's contribution to the victory. Lopez was responsible for ten points on the day, going three-for-four on field goals and adding a PAT. The senior kicker made kicks of 37, 26 and 21 yards and had a 43-yarder blocked.

While he didn't register a touchdown, quarterback Logan Kilgore protected the ball well enough to propel Middle Tennessee to their first victory over Troy since 2005. He was 18-of-36 on the day for 176 yards and no touchdowns. More importantly than that, Kilgore didn't throw any interceptions and managed a Blue Raider offense that did just enough to secure the win.

All in all the story of the day is Middle Tennessee's ability to force Troy into coughing the ball up. The Blue Raiders forced a total of five turnovers on the day, and they needed every single one of them for the win. That fact is glaringly obvious when you consider that the Trojans actually outgained Middle 472-328 on the day.

With his first win over Troy, head coach Rick Stockstill has his team sitting at 8-3 with a defacto Sun Belt Championship game waiting for him next week against Arkansas State. The Blue Raiders have now won four straight games and five straight in league play.

Stay tuned to BlueRaiderZone throughout the week for more on Middle Tennessee's quest for a Sun Belt championship.

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