Story by Matthew Giffin / Contributing Writer
Chase Cunningham and Middle Tennessee State University (3-4) ran right over the University of Connecticut (1-8) for their first road win of the season Friday night 44-13.
Cunningham once again proved his ability as the Raiders’ quarterback, making it look like he’s always been the starter. Though he started slow in the first quarter, Cunningham threw four touchdowns to three receivers on the night, heaved the football 297 total yards and completed 25 out of 36 passes for deadly accuracy. In his first starting season, Cunningham became the 12th MTSU quarterback to throw four touchdowns in a single game. He also showed off his deceptive speed, burning the Husky defense and scrambling wildly for unlikely first downs.
Middle Tennessee showed out on the run as well, despite missing Amir Rasul and Brad Anderson. Redshirt senior Martell Pettaway rushed like a monster, averaging 5.3 yards per carry. In the second quarter, Pettaway’s run was nearly brought to a halt by the Connecticut defense, but Pettaway turned on the jets, unfazed by the five Huskies hanging on his jersey for a tough first down. Pettaway also had a 1-yard TD and led the Raiders with 63 rushing yards, followed by Chaton Mobley with 48 of his own.
Reed Blankenship and the MTSU secondary refused to give anything to UCONN quarterback Steven Krajewski. Blankenship picked up a first-quarter fumble and bobbled a Husky pass high in the air to be intercepted by Quincy Riley in the third quarter. Add to that another interception in the fourth from Gregory Grate, and the Blue Raider defense now has 20 takeaways for the season, among the most in the nation. The defense really shined in the second half, only allowing a field goal from the Connecticut offense after a tie game at half time.
Zeke Rankin, MTSU placekicker and a redshirt freshman, had the most active game he’s had this season. He made 14 of the Raiders’ 44 points, including three field goals and five extra points.
Jarrin Pierce kept his reception streak alive, making it his 28th game with at least one catch. He’s had at least one reception every game in his career.
Junior Izaiah Gathings had his first receiving TD with Middle Tennessee in the second quarter.
The Blue Raiders will finally return to Floyd Stadium for their homecoming game against the University of Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles on Saturday, Oct. 30. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m., CDT. The game will also be available for viewing on ESPN+.
Going forward, MTSU’s schedule only includes in-conference opponents.