Middle Tennessee Overpowers Miners for 10th Straight Home Loss
Middle Tennessee senior quarterback Brent Stockstill put up 352 passing yards and threw four touchdowns against a strong UTEP pass defense, as the Blue Raiders rolled over the Miners, 48-32, on Saturday afternoon.
In front of 9,690 fans at the Sun Bowl, the Miners could not generate any consistent offense, being out-gained 491-333 in total offense. The Miners also fell in the turnover margin, as they lost a fumble on their opening offensive possession and quarterback Kai Locksley had two interceptions.
“That was a pretty frenetic game for sure, a lot of stuff going on,” head coach Dana Dimel said. “I obviously wasn’t happy with the way we started the ballgame. On the first drive we got them into a third and long, they converted (it) and got a nice drive going. They got the first score in. But then offensively, we had a turnover right after that and put them in good field position. So I wasn’t happy at all with our early execution. It allowed them to get some momentum on the road. You’ve got to come out and start faster and start a little more precise than we did tonight. And from then, we were just playing behind.”
“Yeah I didn’t like the way we came out of the locker room. I want us to come out with more juice.”
The Blue Raiders opened up the game with a nine-play, 75-yard drive capped off by a 13-yard Stockstill touchdown pass to Tavares Thomas.
Upon recovering a fumble on UTEP’s first play from scrimmage, Stockstill quickly drove the offense 40 yards in six plays, which ended in a one-yard rushing touchdown by Thomas.
In the second quarter, the Miners cut the Blue Raiders lead to one touchdown after running back Quadraiz Wadley rushed for a seven-yard touchdown.
But then Stockstill would score on two passing touchdowns on back-to-back possessions for Middle Tennessee from 25 and 18 yards out, respectively. UTEP’s Jason Filley nailed a 50-yard field goal at the end of the half to make it 27-10 in MTSU’s favor.
“He played as good of a game as any quarterback I’ve been around for quite a while,” Dimel said. “That kid really, really played a ballgame today. He put some passes in some spots and he had to go to his third, fourth and fifth progressions at times and he does it so quickly and gets out there. You can just tell that he grew up in the game, he’s talented and he’s got some moxie and some savvy to what he does.”
At the half, Middle Tennessee out-gained the Miners 304-81 in total yards, held the Miners to just 27 rushing yards and also scored on three-of-three trips to the red zone.
UTEP started the second half failing to convert a 4th-and-short across midfield. After taking over on downs, the Blue Raiders marched 45 yards down field in five plays, including a successful fourth down conversion, which set up a two-yard rushing touchdown by Chaton Mobley.
Wadley helped shed some light on the Miners offense, rushing for a nine-yard touchdown and carried a 54-yard play to set up a four-yard passing touchdown from Locksley to Erik Brown.
The only problem is MTSU scored two more touchdowns to cap off the game, including a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown by Wesley Bush off a Locksley pass.
And, when the game was out of reach, quarterback Brandon Jones connected with Terry Juniel for a nine-yard touchdown pass.
“We made some runs in the game,” Dimel said. “We got some deficits there that were larger than what we’ve been in for quite a while, but again our team rebounded in those types of situations and showed a lot of fight and a lot of character. I really liked what they did as far as making plays and battling. Our defense was out there quite a bit, but they battled and they battled and did some really positive things even though to the naked eye it may not appear that way. And then our offense found some rhythm in the second half and responded, had some success.”
Locksley finished the day completing 14-of-29 passes for 163 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. Jones finished with 55 passing yards (4-of-10) and a touchdown. Two tight ends in Josh Weeks and David Lucero led the receivers with 71 and 62 receiving yards, respectively.
Linebacker A.J. Hotchkins led the Miners with 14 total tackles.
Next up, the Miners will travel to Western Kentucky on Saturday, Nov. 17.
“I think we need to prepare to win every week. Next week is definitely a winnable game,” Hotckins said.