The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders defeated the Florida Atlantic Owls on Saturday night, 35-34. The Blue Raiders trailed for the majority of the game, before driving down the field and scoring with 19 seconds left in the game.
While Florida Atlantic has struggled to get things going early all season long, Saturday was a different story. With the first play from scrimmage, Jaquez Johnson handed the ball off to Lucky Whitehead on a jet sweep that saw the red-dreaded speedster run for 80 yards and a touchdown. MTSU drove down the field on the ensuing drive, only to fake their field goal attempt and get stuffed by Andrae Kirk on the inside pitch.
A favorable shift in momentum saw the Owls drive down the field on their second drive of the game. A Quez keeper for 17 yards allowed FAU to push their lead to 10-0 after a Greg Joseph field goal.
MTSU would answer the call and, led by quarterback Austin Grammer, score on an easy 4-yard pass to Christian Collis.
Henry Bussey burst back on the scene for the Owls with a 69-yard reception to bring the ball down to the 3-yard line. After some initial running into the ground by Jay Warren, Jaquez Johnson huffed and puffed his way into the end zone to move the lead to 17-7.
As FAU seemed primed to cut their losses and drag the result into the half, a questionable failed fake punt led to another MTSU score. Reggie Whatley took an Austin Grammer hand-off 30 yards for a touchdown to bring the Blue Raiders within three before halftime.
The fast starts continued for Florida Atlantic as Sharrod Neasman quickly intercepted Grammer in great field position for the Owls. After a few runs by Warren, Jaquez Johnson found Kalib Woods on a majestic fade route to complete the 23-yard score. The Blue Raiders started their next drive with another turnover as Ed'Marques Batties fumbled the ball over to the Owls and they were only able to add another field goal.
Despite getting absolutely floored by big runs this season, Florida Atlantic let up another large play with Reggie Whatley running away for a 75-yard touchdown.
The Owls would respond deep in the fourth quarter with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Alex Deleon. On what seemed like a lost drive for FAU, Jay Warren stepped up and converted a 3-and-forever to put the Owl offense back in business. A 50-yard pass to Deleon set up his eventual touchdown reception, as the FAU lead pushed ahead to 34-21 with less than six minutes left in the game.
Once again, the Blue Raiders would answer with lightning-fast drive that took less than two minutes and saw Reggie Whatley scamper into the end-zone from nine yards out.
MTSU started their game-winning drive with 2:32 left in the game. The Blue Raiders promptly ran down the field, picking up first down after first down, before settling at the FAU 12-yard line. On 4th and goal, Austin Grammer found Marcus Henry in the end-zone to take the 35-34 lead and seal the game for MTSU.
Middle Tennessee now becomes bowl-eligible at 6-5 (5-2), while Florida Atlantic continues their terrible season at 3-8 (2-5). MTSU heads to UTEP to conclude their season against Miners and the Owls come back home for Senior Night against Old Dominion next weekend.