HUNTINGTON, W.VA. – Middle Tennessee has liked coming out of the locker room after halftime during Conference USA play.
On Friday night for the second week in a row, the Blue Raiders (3-2, 2-0) dominated a C-USA title contender in the last two quarters, this time leading to a 34-24 win at Marshall (3-2, 1-1).
The win was the first ever for MT in Huntington, breaking an 0-4 mark all-time at Joan C. Edwards Stadium, and it also gave Middle Tennessee an early solo East Division lead.
Marshall controlled things in the first half with its big nasties up front on both sides of the ball. At the break, the Thundering Herd led 17-10, and they had gotten to Raider quarterback Brent Stockstill for five sacks while rushing on offense for 167 yards and a 5.2-yard average.
Just like in their C-USA opener the week prior when they outscored preseason C-USA favorite FAU 15-3 to take a 25-24 win, the Blue Raiders came out in the second half on a mission.
The Middle Tennessee defense held Marshall to just 149 total yards in the final two quarters, and the Raiders didn’t give up a sack on offense, allowing Stockstill and his weapons to turn on the heat.
The southpaw signal caller led the Blue Raiders to 24 unanswered points in the second half, finishing 25 of 40 for 317 yards and two touchdowns through the air and running for another 31 yards and a TD. He also went over 10,000 yards passing for his career, the first MT player to accomplish that feat and just the 24th in NCAA history.
Stockstill wasn’t stingy with who he threw the ball to, either. Eight players caught at least one pass, led by graduate senior Gatlin Casey’s six receptions for 54 yards. Junior Ty Lee led the way in receiving yards with 67 on four grabs, and seniors Patrick Smith and Tavares Thomas had TD catches.
Thomas also came alive in the second half on the ground, rushing for 32 of his team-high 42 yards after halftime. He also had a rushing TD for his second of the night.
Leading the way defensively for the Blue Raiders was senior safety Jovante Moffatt. In his second game of the season after missing the first three recovering from offseason surgery, he racked up a career-high 17 tackles to go with a forced fumble.
His safety mate, sophomore Reed Blankenship, added 14 tackles, and linebackers Darius Harris and Khalil Brooks were also in double digits with 12 and 11, respectively. Harris, Brooks (two), Trae Philpots and DQ Thomas (two) also had sacks, and Harris forced a fumble. Wesley Bush intercepted a pass.
The win puts Middle Tennessee into the driver’s seat in the C-USA East Division. It’ll take its 2-0 league record to FIU on Oct. 13, scheduled for a 6:30 p.m. CT kickoff.