SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders aren’t exactly new to the upset business, and they pulled another one Saturday in a 30-23 win over the Syracuse Orange at the Carrier Dome.
It was the second year in a row the Blue Raiders have surprised a Power 5 program on the road following last year’s 51-45 shocker at Missouri. The Blue Raiders also won 49-28 at Georgia Tech in 2012 and escaped a trip to Maryland in 2009 with a 32-31 win.
Saturday’s win marked a big turnaround from Middle Tennessee’s 28-6 loss to Vanderbilt at home in Murfreesboro, Tenn., to start the season, and the Blue Raiders will have one more chance at a Power 5 foe this coming weekend when they travel to Minnesota for a mid-afternoon kickoff.
With former Syracuse head coach Scott Shafer calling the plays as Middle Tennessee’s defensive coordinator, the Blue Raiders got an early safety to take a 2-0 lead, but mostly struggled to get the offense going for the second straight week. The Blue Raiders trailed 16-9 late in the third quarter before the offense finally got going with junior quarterback Brent Stockstill – the son of Middle Tennessee head coach Rick Stockstill – leading the way. With 3:38 remaining in the quarter, he found wide receiver Richie James on a 28-yard crossing pattern to pull the Blue Raiders even at 16-all.
After Shafer’s defense got another stop, Stockstill opened the fourth quarter with a 48-yard completion to Ty Lee that went the distance, and suddenly, the stagnant Middle Tennessee offense was rolling as the Blue Raiders took a 23-16 lead. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey then scored on a 29-yard run right up the middle to tie the game again at 23, but Stockstill wasn’t finished yet. On the ensuing drive, he led the Blue Raiders 75 yards on 10 plays finding Shane Tucker on a 10-yard strike to put Middle Tennessee out front 30-23.
The game ended moments later when Syracuse was only able to pick up 14 yards on a 4th-and-15 against Shafer’s defense, and Middle Tennessee then took possession and ran out the clock.
Syracuse will be back home again next week hosting Central Michigan. Middle Tennessee’s trip to Minnesota, meanwhile, will continue the Scott Shafer revenge tour as the athletic director at Minnesota is Mark Coyle – the man who fired him at Syracuse.
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