Logan Kilgore found Tavarres Jefferson for a game-winning nine-yard touchdown in the final three seconds to carry Middle Tennessee to a 51-49 victory over Marshall in front of 19,898 for the annual Blackout game at Floyd Stadium.
The two teams combined for 100 points and over 1,000 yards in a classic Conference USA shootout that aired nationally on FS1. After trading blows the entire game, Marshall (4-3, 2-1 C-USA) took a 49-45 lead with less than three minutes remaining thanks to a Essray Taliaferro two-yard touchdown.
The Raiders (4-4, 2-2 C-USA) used the final 2:29 to march down 79 yards on 12 plays. Kilgore converted a critical fourth down play with an 18-yard strike to Jefferson. With just three ticks left, he found Jefferson again in the end zone to give Middle Tennessee the thrilling victory. It was the first last-second win for MT since toppling Maryland in 2009.
Middle Tennessee put together 585 yards of offense on a school-record 100 snaps. Marshall compiled 448 yards on 87 plays. Both teams committed a turnover and interception each.
Kilgore connected on 22 passes on 40 attempts with four touchdowns and an interception for 277 yards. The redshirt senior completed his 18th career 200-yard passing game, tying Wes Counts and Clint Marks for the most in school history. Jefferson led the wideout corps with seven grabs for 91 yards and a touchdown.
The Blue Raider tailback tandem of Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley each recorded over 100 yards. Parker ran 21 times on the ground for 127 yards and a touchdown. Whatley racked up a career-best 104 yards on 16 attempts.
Middle Tennessee opened the game with a 16-yard touchdown strike from Kilgore to Kyle Griswould. Marshall struck back on the next possession with a 39 yard passing touchdown from Rakeem Cato to Jazz King to tie the game with 8:47 left in the opening frame.
Special teams stepped up big midway through the first quarter when Chris Brown recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to put the Raiders up 14-7.
Marshall bounced back with a pair of consecutive touchdowns to take a 21-14 lead late into the second quarter. In the final seconds of the half, Reggie Whatley belted runs for 19 yards and 28 yards that would make way for a 16-yard strike from Kilgore to Christian Collis for his first TD grab of the year.
Both teams were near even at the half with Marshall accumulating 255 yards on 49 plays, while MT had 233 in 40 snaps. Kilgore was 9-of-17 with two touchdowns and an interception for 107 yards. Cato completed 11 passes out of 24 attempts with an interception for 168 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
MT took a 28-21 advantage after marching down 75 yards in 11 plays to open the third. Parker got the TD nod with a one-yard scamper at the 12:37 mark. The Herd quickly answered 1:23 later as Kevin Grooms hammered in a one-yard touchdown to tie the game.
The scoring frenzy continued when Kilgore rushed up the middle to cap a 75-yard drive, giving MT a 35-28 edge. Cody Clark hammered a 37-yard field goal to give the Raiders a 10-point edge in the third quarter. The Thundering Herd used prime field position to score a touchdown and cut MT’s lead to 38-35.
The two squads once again traded touchdown blows to make it a 45-42 score with 8:17 left in the contest. Marshall’s Taliaferro scampered in for a two-yard touchdown to give MU a 49-45 edge with 2:29 remaining. Kilgore’s TD pass to Jefferson capped a night of offensive scoring, giving the Raiders a season-best in points and total offense.
Cato finished the day 19-for-35 with 235 yards and three touchdowns for the Herd, while Taliaffero led MU with 134 yards and two touchdowns in 24 attempts.
MT returns to action next on Nov. 2 at UAB. The Noon broadcast will be televised on Fox Sports South.