In a matter of a minute something so wonderful turned into devastation as the Blue Raiders fell to Virginia 23-21. The Cavaliers called on kicker Chris Gould to save the day and allow Virginia to escape Floyd Stadium with a narrow victory. Gould, who had previously missed an extra point, nailed a 35-yard field goal with four seconds to seal the Blue Raiders fate.
Middle Tennessee (1-5) took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter on a Dwight Dasher pass to Bobby Williams and kept that lead until the Cavaliers scored just before halftime to tie the game up heading into the break.
After a scoreless third quarter, Virginia (5-1) finished off a drive that began late in the third to take a 20-14 lead with 13:58 remaining in the final period; the extra point attempt failed.
The defense stepped up to put the offense in prime scoring position as Bradley Robinson intercepted a Jameel Sewell pass and returned it all the way to the 1-yard line. DeMarco McNair punched it in one play later to give Middle a 21-20 advantage with 7:29 left in the fourth.
Each team traded punts until Middle was able to get the ball with around three minutes left in the game. However, the Blue Raiders were unable to run the clock out and were forced to punt back to Virginia with just over a minute remaining. The Cavaliers drove down the field with no timeouts to set up the game winning kick.
“This loss hurts,” said Blue Raider head coach Rick Stockstill. “We’ll get over it but this is a tough loss. Our guys played their guts out and I’m really proud of our guys.”
Dasher silenced some more critics by going 17-of-33 for 181 yards and two touchdowns against the top team in the ACC. He was also able to rush for an additional 77 yards.
“Dwight’s a player and if there was any doubt before this game I think he answered those questions tonight.” Stockstill said. “He’s made some big plays over the last three games and he hasn’t committed a turnover. I love the way he’s playing and our guys are responding to him.”
This game was played in front of the fourth largest crowd in school history. 23,227 people saw the Blue Raiders come close to picking up what would have been one of the biggest wins in school history. Stockstill offered some encouraging words for the future.
“A game like this gives you hope that we will be successful here, we will get it done here and it’s just a matter of time,” Stockstill said.