The MTSU football team broke the string of opening week losses with a closer than expected win against Western Carolina University Thursday night.
However, the biggest news of night was the injury of Blue Raider senior quarterback Logan Kilgore in the third quarter. Freshman Austin Grammer came in the game for MTSU.
“I dove for a first down, and I was on the ground,” Kilgore said. “A guy came in kind of high, it is what it is. My shoulder went to the ground. I came to the sideline and tried to throw a couple of balls, and they felt it was best to get some ice on it right away.”
It was announced during the third quarter, Kilgore had a shoulder injury, and he will be looked at by the doctors, according to head coach Rick Stockstill.
“We will see in the next couple of days how he responds,” Stockstill said. “We will get it checked out, it is his throwing shoulder.”
In his first offensive series as a Blue Raider, Grammer lead it down the field, and he capped it off with 10-yard touchdown run with 3:54 left in the third quarter to make the score 38-18. He took over midway through the drive from Kilgore, and he showed the poise of a veteran behind center. On the drive, Grammer went five-for-six passing for 46 yards through the air.
“I think he did a great job,” Kilgore said of Grammer’s performance. “He has got the poise and the athleticism to be a great player. I have no doubt that whenever we need him to jump in, he proved it tonight.”
Grammer finished the night going seven-for-nine for 61 yards. Kilgore was 12-of-18 for 144 yards and a touchdown pass.
On the very first offensive play of the season, sophomore running back Jordan Parker took the handoff and raced 65 yards for a Blue Raiders score. MTSU added two more touchdowns in the first quarter, one on a Kilgore 10 yard scoring toss to senior tight end Jacob Corbaley, and fellow senior wide receiver Kyle Griswould returned a punt 57 yards for score.
MTSU added a five-yard William Pratcher touchdown run in the second quarter to make the score 28-0 with 12:18 left in the opening half. The Blue Raiders looked like it was in control, then the mistakes started to happen and WCU found some life.
The Catamounts score its first touchdown of the game on a 39 yard pass from sophomore quarterback Troy Mitchell with 1:48 left in the second quarter. After the Blue Raiders fumbled the kickoff, WCU took advantage of the mistake when Mitchell found Terryon Robinson from 35 yards out to make the score 31-18 at the half.
However, the Blue Raiders defense answered in the second half, which included an interception by junior cornerback Chris Sharpe in the end zone to prevent a WCU touchdown. The defense only gave a late touchdown in the second half to hold on for the 45-24 win.
“(Defensive Coordinator Tyrone) Nix told us to stay together and not point fingers,” Sharpe said. “In the first half, we did get selfish, but in the second half we talked about fighting for the next man.”
Coming into the game, the Blue Raiders were looking to end a six year first game losing streak. Consider everything, which happened tonight. It was a job well done for the Blue Raiders.
“I really loved how we came out, played hard and scored early,” Corbaley said. “We kind of got complacent in the middle, but them we came out after halftime.”
“It’s just a start of something good that is about to happen,” Pratcher added. “We are just blessed to get this win.
Pratcher finished with 71 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Parker had 171 yards on the ground with a score of his own.
The Blue Raiders travel to North Carolina on Sept. 7 with kickoff at 11:30 a.m. and it will be shown on the ACC Network.