Middle Tennessee’s football team controlled the game from the first drive at Johnny “Red” Floyd Stadium, taking down Murray State 35-14 on an overcast and at times rainy Saturday night.
The Blue Raiders (1-2) started the game fast, as quarterback Nicholas Vattiato put together a methodical, explosive 75-yard drive in just seven plays to start the game for MTSU, capping it off with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Jaiden Credle on the check down against a Murray State blitz for the game’s first points.
“We knew it was going to be a fight coming in here,” MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. “We knew we were going to get their best effort. We got it. I thought we did a lot of good things tonight. And we did a lot of things that we’ve got to get corrected. But I’m proud that we won the game. I’ll never sit up here and apologize for winning. Winning is hard, it doesn’t matter who you play. So, I’m fired up that we won.
Credle continued to have the hot hand later in the first quarter, taking the first play of MTSU’s third drive 71 yards along the MTSU sideline for a touchdown and a 14-0 Blue Raider lead over the Racers (1-2).
Jekail Middlebrook kept the running game going in the second quarter, capping off another long drive by dragging a Murray State defender into the endzone after making several Racers miss en route to a 25-yard touchdown. It was the freshman’s first career score.
Murray State then responded with a 55-yard run to set up a 12-yard touchdown pass on the ensuing drive, cutting MTSU’s lead to 21-7, which held until halftime.
Middlebrook took advantage of MTSU’s third fumble recovery of the game in the third quarter, capping off a scoring drive with a multi-juke, 18-yard touchdown run, stretching the lead to 28-7.
After another Murray State touchdown, MTSU only needed three plays to go 67 yards on the ensuing fourth quarter drive, with Vattiato finding Jeremy Tate Jr. behind the defense following a bite on the pump fake for the easy 40-yard touchdown.
“Defensively, we did some good things, had three turnovers,” Stockstill said, but we let some balls get over the top of us and we didn’t tackle very good in there in the second half.
“So those are some things that we’ve got to get corrected. In the kicking game, they snuck a punt, a fake-out of us there backed up. Give them credit for that. Just glad that we won, fired up that we won. We had seven starters out tonight, hopefully we can get some guys back and get healthy and make our corrections this week and get ready to take on Colorado State.”
MTSU plays host to Colorado State, which lost in overtime at Colorado Saturday at 6 p.m. at Floyd Stadium.