Reggie Whatley's 96-yard kick return touchdown in the fourth quarter lifted Middle Tennessee to a 34-29 win over Western Kentucky on Thursday night.
With the win, the Blue Raiders (6-3, 4-1 Sun Belt) are now in sole possession of second place in the Sun Belt, trailing first-place Louisiana-Monroe (6-2, 4-0).
Whatley's kick return came with 6:03 left in the game just after Western Kentucky had tied the game at 27 with a field goal.
The Hilltoppers (6-3, 3-2) drove toward the end zone in the closing stages, but the Blue Raiders' Kenneth Gilstrap picked off a Kawaun Jakes pass deep in MTSU territory with two minutes left to seal the win.
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Western Kentucky got a safety as time expired.
Freshman Jordan Parker rushed for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Blue Raiders, who became bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.