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  • Writer's picturemiddletennesseenews

MTSU Gets First Road Win of the Season against UConn 44-13

BY: MTN Sports Reporter Austin Caperton

MTSU finally snapped their 335-day road losing streak with a dominant win against UConn in one of their most complete performances of the year.

MTSU started off with a three-and-out and a missed field goal before Rankin made his first FG of the game that put the Raiders on the board.

The Blue Raiders offense got going and held a 24-13 lead going into halftime, and dominated the third quarter to make it 34-13, following up with a couple of garbage time scores to close out the Huskies in a complete showing by both the offense and the defense.

“I thought we played very consistently, especially in the second half. We scored every possession, two touchdowns, and two field goals and we didn’t turn the ball over and that’s a pretty good recipe for success.” said coach Stockstill.

MTSU quarterback Chase Cunningham was exceptional despite missing some throws on his first drive, he threw for 297 yards and four touchdown passes, finding 3 different MTSU receivers in the endzone.

“Chase gives you the ability to extend plays. He did a nice job on some scrambles, buying some time and running the ball himself. I thought he did a nice job, he did a lot better job tonight when the pocket did break down and he scrambled, of not putting the ball in harm’s way.” said Stockstill of Cunningham’s performance.

Tight end Jimmy Marshall had two touchdown catches on the day, including a post route where he high-pointed the ball and put the Raiders up 10-0 in the first quarter.

“Once you get so big on chemistry, nobody really can break that so when this play may be called, me and Chase kinda get that nod of the head like… you’re about to get the ball.” said Marshall on the importance of team chemistry when the play breaks down.

MTSU was missing several key rotation players at running back and along the offensive line but both performed very well, rushing for over 150 yards and a touchdown, while only allowing one sack.

“Our offensive line had confidence, they came off the ball,” said coach Stockstill, “ I thought our running backs, Chaton and Martell really had nice games, I think Chase added a few yards in there off a couple of scrambles.”

Yusef Ali led the Blue Raiders with five catches for 80 yards, with a few of those big yardage plays coming off bubble screens that were key to the offensive game plan against UConn.

“I thought our receivers did a fantastic job of blocking on the perimeter, we sprung some of those bubbles, some of those runs, quarterback draws, some of those other runs were contributed by the receivers out there blocking.” said coach Stockstill.

MTSU has a great red zone offense, holding a 85% scoring percentage in the red zone, and they maintained that against UConn, going six for six with four touchdowns and two field goals.

MTSU’s defense had their most complete performance of the season thus far, allowing only 74 yards rushing while also forcing three turnovers and making key pass breakups to get off the field on the third down.

MTSU and UConn both struggled on third down this season and that continued to be the case as both teams converted on 3rd down just 30% of the time.

MTSU got after the quarterback with multiple quarterback pressures and managed to bring down Krajewski twice. Ja’Kerrrius Wyatt, a junior, recorded the first sack of his career in the third quarter.

MTSU, which leads the nation in takeaways through six games, continued to create takeaways in very impressive ways. Deadrick Stanley forced a fumble and the MTSU defense picked off UConn quarterback Steven Krajewski twice.

“We have all the confidence in the world that they’re gonna go out there and do their job, and you know, we kinda struggled early on but we got going to help them out a little bit.” said Cunningham

MTSU had struggled to defend the run through the first six games of the season but were up to the task against the Huskies, only allowing 74 yards total and racking up double-digit tackles for loss in the win.

“We were able to get stops, win on first down, that was a big thing, winning on first and second downs, putting them in third and long and allowing ourselves to get out.” said DQ Thomas, a captain who had two tackles for loss on the day.

MTSU returns home to play Southern Miss next Saturday for Homecoming weekend, after finally getting the monkey off their back, the hope is that MTSU can take this momentum and use it to launch them into the second half of their Conference USA schedule and put themselves in contention for the division title.


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