Middle Tennessee football dominated from wire to wire on Saturday night, scoring a touchdown on six consecutive drives between the first and second halves to blast past Tennessee State 49-6 at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium.
Frank Peasant became the first MTSU running back to rush for over 100 yards on the ground since Chaton Mobley to eclipse the century mark in a single game, helping the Blue Raiders (2-1, 0-0 C-USA) set the tone early in the evening. Peasant punched the ball into the endzone three times against the Tigers (0-3, 0-0 OVC), including an explosive 85-yard run in the third quarter. Chase Cunningham posted an efficient game for the second week in a row, completing 20-of-24 passes for 217 yards and two touchdowns. The sixth-year senior also rushed for a score.
Special teams continued to show up in a big way for MTSU, as Taharin Sudderth blocked a TSU punt in the first quarter, which was then scooped up by Jalen Montgomery for MTSU’s first special teams touchdown of the season. The Blue Raider turnover machine continued where it left off in Fort Collins, intercepting the Tigers twice, with Deonte Stanley and Jalen Davis both earning their first career interceptions.
By the Numbers
42: MTSU’s 42 first-half points were the most since putting up 42 in the first half November 26, 2016 against Florida Atlantic.
10: Blue Raiders who caught a pass against the Tigers. Four of those wideouts (Jaylin Lane, Yusuf Ali, Izaiah Gathings and DJ England-Chisholm) caught at least three passes to pace the balanced Blue Raider passing attack.
22,227: The announced attendance at Floyd Stadium for tonight’s game, the largest crowd for an MTSU home game since the Blue Raiders opened the 2017 against Vanderbilt in front of 26,717 fans.
Blue Raider Notes
ALI IN TOP 10: With three receptions tonight against TSU, senior Yusuf Ali moved into the career top 10 list for receptions at MTSU. Ali surpassed Patrick Honeycutt for 10th place and is the only former walk-on in the top 10. Ali now has 117 career receptions and needs four more to overtake ninth place from Kyle Griswould (121).
THE BLOCK PARTY CONTINUES: Taharin Sudderth’s blocked punt in the first quarter was the Blue Raiders’ 50th blocked kick in 202 games under Rick Stockstill and the 18th punt. Jalen Montgomery’s scoop and score made it the seventh blocked kick resulting in a Blue Raider touchdown in that span and the 18th special teams touchdown under Stockstill. It was MTSU’s second blocked kick of the year after Jordan Ferguson’s blocked field goal at James Madison. The Blue Raiders’ four blocked kicks in 2021 ranked 10th in the nation.
FIRST HALF CHASE: Chase Cunningham has been lighting up opponents in the first half over the Blue Raiders’ last two games, going a combined 44-51 for 417 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. After going 24-27 for 201 yards in the first half at Colorado State, Cunningham was 20-24 for 216 yards and two scores while rushing for another tonight.
PEASANT IS KING: Frank Peasant broke out in a big way tonight, rushing for 122 yards and three touchdowns, breaking the 100-yard mark for the first time in his career. The sophomore matched his touchdown total from the 2021 season in one game, highlighted by an 85-yard run that was tied for the sixth-longest rush in program history. He became the first Blue Raider to break the century mark since Chaton Mobley did it on October 2, 2021 against Marshall.
IN-STATE SUCCESS: The Blue Raiders improved to 15-8 against teams in the state of Tennessee since joining the FBS ranks in 1999. Tonight’s 49-6 win marks the second-largest margin of victory over an in-state opponent under Rick Stockstill and the largest since a 44-0 win over Tennessee Tech in 2006. Stockstill improves to 10-6 against Volunteer State competition.
QUICK HITTERS: DE Jordan Ferguson made his team-leading 25th consecutive start against CSU today … Ferguson also played in his team-leading 4th career game … Darius Bracy’s 11-yard TD reception was his first TD as a Blue Raider … Walk-on running back Jalen Montgomery also scored his first career touchdown when he scooped up a blocked punt and brought it back 19 yards … Transfer Jeremy Tate registered his first reception as a Blue Raider late in the second quarter for a first down … LB Jalen Davis recorded his first career interception late in the first half … In their last two games combined, the Blue Raiders have outscored their opponents 69-0 in the first half … MTSU’s 42 first-half points were the most since putting up 42 in the first half November 26, 2016 against Florida Atlantic
Thoughts from Head Coach Rick Stockstill
“Obviously, it was a big win, great win for us. Really proud of our mental intensity and focus that we had throughout the course of the week and throughout this game. 42-0 at halftime, that’s hard to maintain that in the second half. I thought our guys did a really nice job of doing that.
“Offensively, we kept our guys in there because so we learn how to come out after halftime and start the second half. If we successful, we were going to get those guys and that’s what we did. Frank (Peasant) broke the long run and then we got everybody out and started playing some younger guys and just milked the clock.
“We talked all week about the kicking game and thought we had an advantage there. Thought we could make something happen in the kicking game and we did, we got the block and the score off of it. I thought that was big, it jazzed the sideline and got us going a little bit.”
Middle Tennessee will travel to Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. to take on the Miami Hurricanes. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 ET/2:30 CT on the ACC Network and Blue Raider Radio Network.
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