Sunday, May 28, 2023

Football: Defense dominates in MT’s 24-13 win over Bowling Green


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Story by Devin P. Grimes / Sports Reporter

Photo by Darwin Moore / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (2-2) earned a victory against the Bowling Green Falcons (0-4) at Floyd Stadium by a final score of 24-13.

The Blue Raiders entered this game short-handed on both sides of the ball. They were without their dynamic duo of Brent Stockstill (sternum injury) and Richie James (ankle injury). The Blue Raiders also missed running back Shane Tucker, offensive lineman Chandler Brewer and defensive tackle Ty Nix.

John Urzua started at quarterback for the second straight game and played much better this time around. Middle Tennessee got off to a good start in this game as well and finished their opening drive with a 4-yard run by Jocquez Bruce to take an early 7-0 lead.

Urzua completed all four of his passes on the drive for 41 yards.

The Falcons struck back on the ensuing drive, after missed tackle in the open field allowed Scott Miller to haul in a 60-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Jarret Doege. This was the last scoring play of the quarter, as the teams entered the second stanza.

In the second quarter, the Blue Raiders came out and had a good mixture of offensive plays.The variety of play calling led to a touchdown pass from Uzura to Ty Lee from one yard out to give MT a 14-7 lead.

The defense applied pressure on Bowling Green’s offense by sending safety blitzes and holding the Falcons to only one net rushing yard over the entire night. The Blue Raider pass rush had a big game, coming up with three sacks and four quarterback hurries.

Middle Tennessee’s offense struck again just before the half, as Urzua and freshman running back Brad Anderson connected on a 64-yard touchdown pass. Anderson made a big difference in both the passing and running game, as he finished the game with 104 yards on 16 carries and six catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

In his first big college opportunity, the Alabama native made the most of his first career start.

“Knowing I’d get the opportunity to play made me work harder,” Anderson said. “I knew I wanted to do great in my first opportunity playing.”

After the first half horn sounded, the banged-up Blue Raiders led 21-10 going into the locker room.

In the second half, the Blue Raiders had a slow start. Urzua fumbled the ball while still in their own territory, setting up the Falcons in great field position.

The outstanding play of the Middle Tennessee defense continued however, as they held BGSU to only a field goal.

The defensive line played one of their best games of the season and it did not go unnoticed by their teammates.

“The D-Line is very strong and they played hard, ” linebacker Khalil Brooks said. “I give (the game ball) to the D-Line this week.”

Each team added a field goal over the rest of the game, but Middle Tennessee controlled possession for the final stretch to take the game by a final score of 24-13.

John Urzua hands the ball off to Brad Anderson against Bowling Green on September 23, 2017 (Darwin Moore/MTSU Sidelines).

Rowdy Raiders run wild

The Blue Raiders finally were able to put together a good performance on the ground. As a group, Middle Tennessee rushed for 243 yards on 43 carries.

Anderson ran for a total of 107 yards, while Bruce picked up 117 yards in his first college game at running back.

Bruce averaged a staggering 7.2 yards per carry, while his battery mate Anderson averaged an impressive 6.5 yards per carry.

After struggling the first three games to run the ball, head coach Rick Stockstill was happy with the performance from his running backs.

“To be honest, I was pleasantly surprised with Jocquez [Bruce],” Stockstill said. “We just moved him back there this week and he hadn’t shown many flashes in practice that he would be able to do that. I was pleased that he and Brad [Anderson] ran hard as well. We finally looked like a fast team.”

MTSU Defense has first dominant performance in Shafer era

MTSU’s defense put together a masterful performance against a Bowling Green team that was desperate for a win.

The Blue Raiders held the Falcons to two field goals, and these stops were important for the defense as the game progressed.

They held the Falcons to just one net yard on the ground and kept running back Josh Cleveland to a total of 38 yards. Cleveland ran for 153 yards against the Blue Raiders in their meeting last season.

With the history of MT’s run defense, the game-plan tonight was relatively simple.

“Stop the run,” Harris said. “You stop the run, you get them out their game and we will live with them passing.”

What’s next?

Middle Tennessee begins conference play when they travel to Boca Raton, Florida for a matchup with Lane Kiffin’s Florida Atlantic Owls. The game will kick-off at 6 p.m.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13), email

For more sports stories, follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines and on Twitter and Periscope at @Sidelines_Sport.

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