Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Football: Blue Raiders regain momentum with second straight win over the 49ers

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Photo and story by Devin P. Grimes / MTSU Sidelines

The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (5-5, 3-3) walked out of Jerry Richardson Stadium with a convincing 35-21 victory against the Charlotte 49ers (1-9, 1-5).

The Blue Raiders entered the game with confidence as Brent Stockstill was starting in his second straight game since he suffered an injury in week two.

Early in the first quarter, the 49ers scored on their opening drive, as running back Benny LeMay found the endzone on a 16-yard run.

Tavares Thomas had a dominating performance on the ground in this matchup. He found the end zone twice in the first quarter with the help of the offensive line. He scored from two and four yards out to give his team a 14-7 lead entering the second quarter.

Stockstill showed how valuable he is to the team during his performance. He did not commit any turnovers and threw for three touchdowns. Stockstill completed 18 passes on 31 attempts for 255 yards.

Stockstill found offensive lineman Ty Watkins for a six yard score, as Watkins was subbed in as an eligible receiver on the play.

Wide receiver Ty Lee was also a player who had a big performance. He caught six passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. His longest catch of the game occurred when Stockstill connected with him for a 63-yard touchdown en-route to 28 unanswered points.

The Blue Raiders went into halftime with a 28-7 lead.

Thomas continued to dominate the second half with his ability to run the ball. Thomas finished the game with 29 carries for 195 yards. His dominating performance wore down the defense, as he averaged 6.2 yards per carry.

Freshman safety Reed Blankenship intercepted a pass from Charlotte’s quarterback Hassan Klug in the fourth quarter. That interception set up the Blue Raiders in great field position after Blankenship returned the ball for 26 yards.

Late in the fourth quarter, Stockstill found wide receiver Patrick Smith to extend the lead, 35-14. That passing touchdown was also Smith’s first touchdown of the season.

The 49ers would score once more, but were unable to overcome the Blue Raiders large lead. Middle Tennessee landed their second consecutive victory against Charlotte.

The Blue Raiders look to become bowl eligible in their next game when they travel to face the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. Kickoff will be Friday night at 6:30 p.m.

To contact Sports Editor Rusty Ellis (@RustyEllis13), email sports@mtsusidelines.com.

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

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