Middle Tennessee football started red hot on offense, jumping out to a three-score first half lead that powered the Blue Raiders the rest of the night, winning 49-21 over FAU on Saturday night in Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium.
The Blue Raiders (6-5, 3-4 C-USA) posted 400 total yards in the first half, scoring on four of the team’s first five drives to jump out to a 28-7 lead. FAU (5-6, 4-3 C-USA) would get a touchdown back just before the half, but could not slow down the Blue Raiders in the second half, as MTSU won the third quarter 14-7, just like the previous two quarters, to continue their dominance on the day.
Chase Cunningham just missed setting multiple program records, settling for personal bests in both completions (40) and passing yards (448 yards). The signal caller tossed five touchdown passes on Saturday. The MTSU running backs came up big, with Frank Peasant and Darius Bracy combining for five of the Blue Raiders’ seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Christian Dixon was a menace in his final game in Floyd Stadium. The Towson transfer led the Blue Raiders with eight tackles, including 1.5 TFL. Jordan Ferguson got a huge special teams play to his stellar career resume, rushing the ball 49-yards on a fake punt direct snap to set up an MTSU touchdown in the third quarter.
By the Numbers
372: Passing yards for Chase Cunningham in the first half. The sixth-year senior completed 31-of-42 passes with four touchdowns in the game’s first 30 minutes. Both the yardage and number of completions with single-half program records.
166: Total yards for Frank Peasant, who became the first Blue Raider running back since Brad Anderson in 2017 to record over 100 receiving yards. Peasant scored three touchdowns on Saturday, two from the air, one on the ground.
9: Tackles for Loss for the MTSU defense. Eight different Blue Raiders contributed to at least one TFL on Saturday, led by Marley Cook’s 2.0 sacks.
Blue Raider Notes
BOWL ELIGIBLE: With today’s win, the Blue Raiders reached bowl eligibility with their sixth win of the season. It is the 12th time in 17 years under Rick Stockstill MTSU has been bowl-eligible. The 12 bowl eligible seasons since 2006 are the most among Conference USA teams and among FBS teams in the state of Tennessee.
HOME FINALES: Middle Tennessee owns a mark of 11-5 under Rick Stockstill in its final regular season home game and has won eight of its last 10. The Blue Raiders have a mark of 3-1 during that span when facing a Florida school.
90+: MTSU registered its third 90-yards or more drive this season when it went 90 yards for a score in the first quarter. It was also the longest scoring drive of the year at home as the previous two 90+ yard drives came at No. 25 Miami. That is now 34 drives of 90 or more yards under Rick Stockstill.
WELCOME BACK, CHASE: After missing last week’s game against Charlotte with an injury, QB Chase Cunningham came back with vengeance on Senior Day. The signal-caller threw for a a career-high 448 yards on a personal-best 40 completions (second most completions in school history). It was his second 400-yard passing game of his career (408 vs. Miami). The Knoxville native set single-game half records by completing 31 of 42 passes for 372 yards and four touchdowns in the first half against FAU.
ANOTHER BLOCK: Middle Tennessee, which entered the game ranked third nationally in blocked kicks, recorded its sixth of the season against FAU. The Blue Raiders blocked a punt courtesy of Ralph Mency late in the second quarter and it was the second block of his career. The six blocked kicks this season is the most since the Blue Raiders had six in 2010. Overall, 54 kicks have been blocked in the Rick Stockstill era with 27 field goals, 21punts and 6 PATs.
PEASANT THE RECEIVER: Running back Frank Peasant has been a tremendous receiver out of the backfield during his career. Against FAU, Peasant had a career day through the air with personal bests in receptions (8) and receiving yards (107). His previous high in a game was three catches on two occasions and yards was 36 against Louisiana Tech earlier this year. Peasant became the first Blue Raider back to reach 100 yards receiving since Brad Anderson had 137 yards against UAB in 2017.
QUICK HITTERS: Jordan Ferguson made his 33rd consecutive start against FAU today while Kyle Ulbrich made his 37th start in a row … Ferguson also played in his team-leading 56th career game which ranks third most all-time … MTSU scored a TD on its opening drive of the game for the first time this season … Middle Tennessee’s 615 total yards of offense was a season-high … Teldrick Ross finished with a career-high five pass breakups.
Thoughts from Head Coach Rick Stockstill
“Really proud and happy for our team. It was a great win against a really good football team. Really proud of how we played, all three phases I thought showed up tonight. We were really good offensively, we scored a bunch of points. We were really good defensively, especially when we didn’t let balls go over the top of us.
“The kicking game, again man. We punted good, we protected good, we covered good, we blocked another punt. We had the fake punt that got us down inside the five-yard line. All three phases showed up.”
Middle Tennessee concludes the regular season on the road in Miami, Fla., taking on the FIU Panthers next Saturday. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. CT on ESPN3 and the Blue Raider Radio Network.
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