Blue Raider sophomore strong safety Kevin Byard makes a tackle during 24-17 loss to East Carolina on Oct. 5, 2013, in Murfreesboro, Tenn. (Photo courtesy of MTSU Athletics))
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. -- MTSU dropped a tough 24-17 loss to East Carolina on Saturday during homecoming at Floyd Stadium.
The Blue Raiders had a chance to tie the game with 5:16 left in the game after the Pirates missed a 52-yard field goal, but on the next play senior quarterback Logan Kilgore was picked off by ECU senior free safety Damon Magazu. The Pirates then ran out the clock to ice the game.
“He should have never thrown it,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill said after the loss. “To throw two interceptions on first down, you can not do it, especially with five minutes left in the game. The defense battles and forces them into a long field goal and they missed it. We then turn around and throw an interception on the first play.”
Kilgore added, “(Wide receiver) Marcus Henry did a great job running by his guy, and it felt really good coming out of my hand. He just made a really good play. Honestly, I have thrown that ball a thousand times to Henry, and if that guy does not make a play, Henry is gone for a touchdown.”
Both teams came into the game leading the Conference USA Eastern Division, and they Pirates were coming off an impressive 55-31 win at North Carolina. While the Blue Raiders lost at BYU last week.
It was historical day in program history as the Blue Raiders were playing its first ever Conference USA home game. However, ECU got on the board first during its first possession of the game when senior running back Vintavious Cooper punched it in from the one yard line to make it 7-0.
The Blue Raiders answered later in the opening quarter first with a one-yard touchdown run by former Smyrna and sophomore running back Jeremiah Bryson and a 22 yard field goal by freshman kicker Cody Clark to take a 10-7 after one quarter.
A few plays later, Cooper was knocked out of the game with concession like symptoms, but the Pirates offense did not slow down. Last week’s C-USA Offensive Player of Week junior quarterback Shane Carden finished 43-for-57 passing for 365 yards and one touchdown running and throwing, including a one yard touchdown run in the second quarter to take a 14-10 advantage into halftime.
ECU extended the lead in the third quarter, 17-10 after a 25 yard field goal by junior Warren Harvey with 10:37 left in it. However, just before the end of the quarter, Kilgore found senior wide out Tavarres Jefferson for a 26 yard touchdown pass with three seconds left to tie the score at 17.
ECU took the lead for good when Carden found junior wide receiver Justin Hardy from 21 yards out with 13:31 left in the game.
The Blue Raiders had their chances to tie the score, but ECU converted 17 out of 23 chances on third down, including several opportunities late in the game to ice it.
“I knew going into the game they were going to throw a lot of screens and a lot of plays out to the sideline,” Blue Raider sophomore strong safety Kevin Byard said. “I feel like we did not tackle as well as we needed to today, but we were physical and that’s our identity.”
The Blue Raiders hit the road Saturday, Oct. 12, for a 6 p.m. kickoff at North Texas. The game will not be televised.