MTSU may have the trophy again, but the real winners are the thousands of neighbors, friends, family members and colleagues who'll be helped by the blood donated by two competing universities.
"True Blue" MTSU donors out-bled Western Kentucky University Oct. 5-7 during the sixth annual blood drive, drawing 517 pints of blood to WKU's 436 over the three-day event that MTSU calls "Bleed Blue, Beat WKU."
The "Blood Battle" challenge trophy, presented during the MTSU-WKU game in Bowling Green Saturday, Oct. 10, is now MTSU's for the second year in a row -- and the fifth time since the drive began in 2010. The announcement was a comfort to Blue Raider fans in the Hilltoppers' 58-28 gridiron win.
"We cannot express how much we appreciate everyone's hard work and passion," said Patricia Wright, senior representative for the American Red Cross' Tennessee Valley Region.
"At the end of the day, we met the most important goal of helping patients in need. Thanks to you all, there are now hundreds of blood products on the shelves for anyone who needs it!"
"We can only give credit to the overwhelming support of the MTSU student body and university community," said Dr. Gloria Bonner, assistant to MTSU President Sidney A. McPhee and head of the university's "Bleed Blue" planning committee.
"We are extremely appreciative for the show of support on behalf of this amazing community outreach initiative!
"The tremendous success of the 2015 competition blood drive, however, would not have been possible without the leadership, collaboration and support of our Red Cross and the countless MTSU volunteers, students, administrators, faculty, staff and community supporters."
Hundreds of university community members showed up to donate life-saving blood products for their neighbors at both sites, according to American Red Cross officials.
MTSU has won four of the competitions and conducted its own successful drive in 2013 when Western wasn't yet part of Conference USA.
Because each unit of blood can save up to three lives, MTSU's donors alone now have affected nearly 9,500 lives since 2010. The combined MTSU-WKU totals have helped more than 18,500 people in the region.
"When somebody donates blood and they finish and they get off that bed, they are feeling good, because they know that they've saved up to three lives with that pint of blood they've donated," said Wright.
"I think it's a great opportunity to give people a chance to save lives. We don't get a chance to do that very often."