MTSU Falls Short in C-USA Opener
By: MTN Sports Reporter Austin Caperton
(Image from MT Athletics)
The Blue Raiders suffered a setback on Saturday against UTSA, falling to the Roadrunners 27-13 on the road.
The Roadrunners’ defense was up to the challenge, only allowing 199 yards total offense and holding MTSU scoreless for the first three-quarters of the game.
MTSU was able to score in the fourth quarter, with Chase Cunningham finding Jimmy Martin for a 23-yard touchdown catch. Cunningham later connected with Jarrin Pierce for a 16-yard touchdown giving the Raiders their second score of the game.
Cunningham spoke openly about what allowed him to make plays and some of the struggles MTSU faced offensively against UTSA.
“You know, I trust all my guys out there. We’ve got a great group of O-Lineman and skill guys. It’s just got to be my job to get the guy the ball. In the skill guy’s hands. It was tough to do tonight, I struggled a little bit. We’ll be better, we’ll get back to work this week and figure it out.”
Bailey Hockman started the game for the Raiders, throwing for 41 yards and an interception before being replaced by Chase Cunningham.
The Raiders struggled to run the football, only gaining 44 yards, not including the loss of yardage from quarterback runs and sacks. Martell Pettaway and Amir Rasul were the primary backs who each gained 23 yards respectively
Coach Rick Stockstill was not happy with his offense’s performance against UTSA.
“We were terrible offensively. We couldn’t do it. We couldn’t protect. We couldn’t run the ball. They physically whipped us up front. They, just, they manhandled us.”
UTSA’s rushing attack and stingy defense were the keys to the win, as UTSA rushed for 175 yards as a team and the defense had 2 takeaways.
MTSU’s defense was following the formula that gave them success to begin the season, forcing turnovers. Quincy Riley had 2 interceptions in his season debut and Gregory Grate forced a fumble in the first quarter.
“I thought our defense played their tails off. I thought they played really good. We gave up a couple plays, but we turned them over three times,” said Coach Stockstill about his defense’s effort, “We blocked a field goal and made them miss a field goal. Our defense did a really outstanding job. Held them to 20 points. I thought our defense was really, really good.”
MTSU struggled to get off the field on third down, allowing 10 conversions throughout the game.
“They just hit it in front of us. You know, we’ve got to be better on third down. They were just hitting little slots here and there. They were good at the quick game. Their receivers were just sitting down in open spots, sometimes it’s hard to cover.” said Reed Blankenship.
Blankenship, one of the captains for MTSU, continued to etch his name in the record books as he recorded 13 tackles in this game, jumping him from fifth to second on the all-time tackle list. Blankenship only needs 10 tackles to break the record set by Roosevelt Colvard during his stint at MTSU from 1983 to 1986.
Despite losing their conference opener, the Blue Raiders still have everything in front of them, and they know that.
Next Saturday, MTSU heads to Charlotte to take on the 49ers, a team that has high expectations to compete for a division title this season. A win would give the Raiders a split record against conference opponents on the road and would provide much-needed momentum following back-to-back losses on the road.