Photo by David Chamberlain / Sidelines
In a rematch for an elusive conference title, Middle Tennessee State fell short because of their own errors.
The MTSU Blue Raiders (8-5) found it near impossible to convert on third down, score in the red zone, or stop mental errors in a nail-biting loss to the University of Alabama Birmingham Blazers (10-3).
MTSU finished 3-15 on third down conversions, with many of the big miscues coming inside UAB territory.
Crews Holt had a great day nailing all four of his field goal attempts. However, had just one of those field goal drives inside the red zone ended up in the end zone, then MTSU would have lifted the C-USA title trophy on their home turf.
The killer blow came just before what would have been a UAB punt with 1:05 to play, but the Blue Raiders had too many men on the field and gave the Blazers a first down with an illegal substitution penalty to seal the game.
The better team is the team that makes the least mistakes, and while MTSU got away with leaving points on the board a week ago in the regular season finale, but it was their demise in the C-USA title game.
Brent Stockstill finished with 362 passing yards and 2 touchdowns in his final game at Floyd Stadium.
The running game was not as successful, as the Blue Raiders only ran for 94 yards on 24 carries with Chaton Mobley facing tough sledding against a stout Blazers defense.
On the other hand, UAB improved massively from its invisible running game last week and hung 225 yards on 54 carries against an outmatched MTSU front. Championship MVP Spencer Brown tallied 156 of the rushing yardage and tacked on one score as well.
Now the Blue Raiders must shake off the heartbreaking loss and look ahead to a well-deserved bowl appearance with Boca Raton and New Orleans floated as possible destinations for MTSU.
Bowl games will be announced over the course of the days following championship weekend.
To contact Sports Editor David Chamberlain, email firstname.lastname@example.org.