MURFREESBORO, Tenn. – Middle Tennessee enjoyed a happy Homecoming by knocking off C-USA leading FIU, 37-17, at Floyd Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Raiders (3-3, 1-1) used a dominating second quarter, in which they outscored FIU 14-0, to take a 17-3 halftime lead and never looked back.
Several players were instrumental in the victory. Playing without quarterback Brent Stockstill for the fourth straight game, sophomore John Urzua stepped up with a solid game. Urzua was 25-of-31 for 250 yards, one touchdown and no turnovers.
Urzua was not the only offensive standout for the Blue Raiders. Freshman tailback Brad Anderson piled up a career-high 112 yards on 11 carries for a whopping 10.2 yards per carry. The strong-running back also caught six passes on seven targets for 47 yards and a 19-yard scoring pass.
The offense finished with 426 yards total offense with 221 coming through the air.
Linebacker Khalil Brooks led the stop squad with eight total tackles, six solo, to go with three sacks and five tackles for loss, which ties a school record. Brooks also forced a fumble.
Darius Harris finished with seven tackles. The stop squad finished with a total of nine tackles for loss and four sacks, along with two forced fumbles.
Canon Rooker provided the Blue Raiders with a 3-0 lead with a 37-yard effort with 4:02 remaining in the opening quarter, but FIU answered with a trifecta with 4:12 remaining in the frame to tie the score.
Thomas scored two second-quarter touchdowns to provide a 17-3 halftime lead. Thomas added a third-quarter score to start the second half scoring and provide a 24-3 advantage that would prove too much too overcome.
Middle Tennessee will look to stay in the win column when it travels to UAB for a 5:30 kickoff, Oct. 14.
RAIDERS ON HOMECOMING: After dropping the last two Homecoming games, the Blue Raiders got back on the winning side with a victory over FIU. MT is now 52-24-2 all-time on Homecoming and 7-5 under Rick Stockstill.
INJURED PLAYERS RETURN: The beat up Blue Raiders welcomed five players back from injuries against FIU. DE Walter Brady, WR Shane Tucker, RB Terelle West, DB Mike Minter, and WR Isiah Upton all returned but QB Brent Stockstill and WR Richie James remained out. DT Malik Manciel also did not play against the Panthers.
THOMAS HITS PAYDIRT … 3 TIMES: Linebacker Tavares Thomas scored his first collegiate touchdown when he had a 1-yard run in the second quarter. He later added a second score in the third quarter and a third in the fourth. Thomas was running as the Blue Raiders’ wildcat QB after shining as a tailback in high school. Last week at FIU, Thomas converted a fake punt by rushing for a yard on fourth down.
BROOKS SHINES: Sophomore Khalil Brooks enjoyed a career and record-setting day in the win over FIU. Brooks equaled his career-high with eight tackles and his five tackles for loss equaled the school record set in 2005 by J.K. Sabb. Brooks also had three sacks as part of his five TFLs which equals the second most in MT history, and was just one shy of the school record for that category.
ROOKER TIES ARRINGTON: With three field goals today, senior Canon Rooker moved into ninth place on the all-time field goals made list, passing Archie Arrington (1970-74). Rooker now has 23 made three-pointers and is 7-for-8 on the season.
ANDERSON TOPS 100: Freshman Brad Anderson turned in his second 100-yard rushing game of the season in the win over FIU. Anderson rushed for a career-high 112 yards on 11 carries for an impressive 10.2 per carry average. Anderson had 104 yards in the last home game against BGSU. Anderson also had six receptions on seven targets for 47 yards and a touchdown. He totaled 159 yards for the game.
QUICK HITTERS: PK Canon Rooker played in his team-high 45th game tonight … LB DJ Sanders made his team-leading 19th straight start … Canon Rooker‘s first quarter field goal was his seventh straight successful three-pointer at Floyd Stadium … Safety Reed Blankenship recorded his first career punt return today against FIU as he took over those duties for Ty Lee… MT won its 23rd C-USA game all-time … MT is now 22-6 over its last 28 home games … The win today over FIU was the 75th at MT for Rick Stockstill… DT Jordan Ferguson registered his first career interception late in the fourth quarter and it was just the third forced turnover by MT this season and first since the Syracuse game … MT scored a season-best 37 points … The Blue Raiders won the turnover battle for the first time this season … MT is now 6-1 all-time vs FIU at Floyd Stadium … QB John Urzua has 56 completions over his last two games combined.