WKU drops heartbreaker to rival MTSU in triple overtime, 50-47

Redshirt senior quarterback Brandon Doughty reset his own single-game WKU passing yards record with 593 yards during the WKU vs Middle Tennessee State University game at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium in Murfreesboro on Sept. 13, 2014. Alyssa Pointer/HERALD

Kyle Williams

MURFREESBORO, Tenn.  — The last three meetings between rivals WKU and Middle Tennessee have come down to just nine points, and it was no different on Saturday as the Hilltoppers dropped a 50-47 decision to the Blue Raiders in triple overtime in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

WKU (1-2) lost despite totaling a program-record 718 yards of offense and limiting the Blue Raiders to just 541. The Blue Raiders (2-1) entered the game giving up only 290 yards of total offense in each of their first two games.

Redshirt quarterback Brandon Doughty also reset his own program single-game passing yards record with 593 and set a new Conference USA single-game passing yards record, topping Chris Redman’s total of 592, which was set in 1998. The Blue Raiders came into the game giving up only 75.5 passing yards per game, which marked third in the nation. Doughty recorded three touchdowns and one interception.

Sophomore quarterback Austin Grammer led the way for MTSU with 218 yards passing, 125 yards rushing and four total touchdowns.

“It’s one of those games,” Brohm said. “I think our team battled hard. They competed through a lot of momentum swings. I’m proud of them, proud of how hard they played. They fought until the end, and that’s all you can ask for. Unfortunately, (MTSU) made the big play at the end to win it, and that’s how it goes.”

The Blue Raiders held a 34-31 advantage with under three minutes left in regulation, but the Hilltoppers used 14 plays to drive 70 yards down the field for the game-tying, 24-yard field goal by junior kicker Garrett Schwettman, sending the game to overtime.

WKU got the ball on offense to begin the first overtime and wasted no time grabbing the lead, as Doughty found a wide-open senior tight end Mitchell Henry for a 25-yard touchdown reception on the first play.

The Blue Raiders were forced into a fourth-and-four situation on their first possession of the initial overtime, but Grammer got out of the bind and eventually snuck into the endzone for a one-yard touchdown two plays later, setting up a second overtime.

“We had multiple chances to win the game and put them away and we just didn’t,” junior linebacker Nick Holt said. “Offense, defense and special teams. We’re really disappointed and its good that we have a bye week to kind of regroup and find our identity as a team.”

MTSU capped off its second-overtime drive with a 42-yard field goal before Schwettman and the Hilltoppers answered with a 36-yarder to send the game to another overtime.

A six-play, 15-yard drive set up another field goal for Schwettman, this time from 27 yards out, to give the Hilltoppers the 47-44 advantage in triple overtime; however, Grammer found redshirt junior receiver Ed’Marques Batties for 25 yards on the Blue Raiders’ first play of triple overtime to seal the 50-47 win.

“Guys are mad, they’re ticked off, they’re disappointed,” Brohm said. “They know that we could have won the game, but like I tell them every week – that’s college football nowadays. We’re a new team in a good conference – a conference that, the first couple weeks, has really proven itself. Every game the rest of the year is going to be like that. They’re going to go down to the wire. We’re going to have to find ways to win.”

Junior running back Leon Allen led the way for WKU on the ground with 128 yards on 30 attempts with a touchdown.

Five Hilltopper receivers caught at least six passes, led by sophomore receiver Nicholas Norris, who totaled 174 yards on six catches and a touchdown. Henry hauled in seven passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Redshirt junior Jared Dangerfield added seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Norris, Henry and Dangerfield are the first Hilltopper trio to each record 100 receiving yards in a single game.

“With record breaking stuff like that…it’s something you want to celebrate,” Redshirt receiver Willie McNeal said. “But with a loss you can’t really celebrate that. You have to go to film and learn from your mistakes and get ready for the next opponent.”

The Hilltoppers will have a bye week next week before traveling to Annapolis, Maryland on Sept. 27 for a bout with Navy at 2:30 p.m. CT.