Middle Tennessee football took the ball away early and kept putting the ball in the end zone late, blasting past No. 25 Miami 45-31 on Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium in a game the Blue Raiders controlled wire to wire.
The Blue Raiders (3-1) turned the Hurricanes (2-2) over on Miami’s first two drives, highlighted by a pick-6 from defensive lineman Zaylin Wood, helping push MTSU to a 17-3 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 24-10 lead at the half.
The offenses continued to trade blows throughout the second half, with Chase Cunningham with Elijah Metcalf for a 69-yard touchdown pass and DJ England-Chisolm for a 98-yard touchdown pass, keeping the foot on the gas a late quarterback change gave Miami life in the second half.
With the win, MTSU has earned their first-ever win against a team ranked in the AP Top 25. The Blue Raiders also improve their overall series record against the Hurricanes to 3-0 all time.
By the Numbers
98: With his 98-yard touchdown catch from Chase Cunningham in the fourth quarter, DJ England-Chisholm matched the longest play in MTSU program history.
408: Quarterback Chase Cunningham set a new career high in passing yards with 408yards against the Hurricanes. The sixth-year senior’s previous career high was 379 yards against Charlotte in 2021 in his first career start. It’s just the eighth 400 yard passing game in MTSU history.
10: MTSU has scored ten defensive touchdowns over the past three seasons. Zaylin Wood’s interception return for a touchdown was the Blue Raiders’ second defensive score of 2022, after Tra Fluellen’s pick-6 on the first play from scrimmage against Colorado State.
$1.5 million: The amount Miami paid MTSU for the Blue Raiders to travel to Hard Rock Stadium this Saturday.
Blue Raider Notes
CAPTAINS: Saturday’s game captains were Yusuf Ali, Chase Cunningham, Jordan Ferguson, Jaylin Lane, and Ja’Kerrius Wyatt.
A RANKED WIN: Since joining the FBS ranks in 1999, the Blue Raiders have faced 22 teams ranked in the nation’s Top 25. The Miami game marked the fifth straight year the Blue Raiders have met a ranked team, including seven total during that span. Today’s upset win over No. 25 Miami marked the first win ever for the Blue Raiders against a ranked team. The Blue Raiders entered the game 0-21 against ranked foes since entering the FBS ranks in 1999.
WOOD WITH THE PICK SIX: DE Zaylin Wood came up with his second career interception and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown early against Miami. It went down as Wood’s first career touchdown on defense but his second career score. Wood hauled in a TD pass on offense last year against FAU. Wood is the fifth defensive lineman to score a touchdown under Rick Stockstill and the third in the last two seasons.
DEFENSE SCORES … AGAIN: For the second time this season and second straight game on the road, MTSU picked off a Miami pass on their first offensive play and returned it 15 yards for a score. It was the second defensive TD of the season and the 10th in the last three years combined. The unit entered the game today ranked 10th nationally in defensive touchdowns scored.
PICK ‘EM: Decorian Patterson and Zaylin Wood ended Miami’s first two drives with interceptions. The Hurricanes had run three offensive plays by the time Wood’s pick-six had given MTSU a 10-0 lead. Patterson’s pick came on Miami’s first play from scrimmage, marking the second time in three weeks the Blue Raiders had an interception on their opponent’s first play of the game. Wood’s interception gave the Blue Raiders their third straight game with at least two interceptions.
LANE TOPS 100: For just the second time in his career, Jaylin Lane topped the 100-yard receiving mark when he hauled in four passes for 130 yards against Miami. Lane, the only Blue Raider on the roster to own a 100-yard game, last hit the century mark against ODU in 2021 with 107 yards.
CUNNINGHAM OVER 400: QB Chase Cunningham topped the 400-yard passing mark for the first time in his career with 408 yards against Miami. The 408 yards bested his previous mark of 379 set in his first career start against Charlotte in 2021 which was also on Sept. 24. Cunningham put up just the eighth 400-yard game in school history.
A BIG DAY FOR DJ: WR DJ England-Chisolm had a career day at Miami, racking up 169 yards and two touchdowns. The junior from Moncks Corner, S.C., caught a 71-yard touchdown pass from Chase Cunningham in the first quarter to extend the Blue Raider lead to 17-3. He followed that up with a 98-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter that matched the longest pass in school history. His 169 receiving yards nearly doubled his previous career high of 85, set against UTSA in 2020.
QUICK HITTERS: Game was delayed 12 minutes to start due to weather … DE Jordan Ferguson made his team-leading 26th consecutive start against CSU today … Ferguson also played in his team-leading 49th career game … Ethan Ellis made his first collegiate start as a Blue Raider vs Miami … The 98-yard TD pass by Chase Cunningham in the fourth quarter went down as the longest completion of his career … The 98-yard TD pass from Chase Cunningham to DJ England-Chisolm in the fourth quarter matched the longest pass in school history (Demetric Mostiller had a 98 yard catch against Tennessee Tech in 1995) … In addition to his second career interception, Zaylin Wood added two sacks to lead the Blue Raiders, his first career multi-sack game … Kyle Ulbrich punted five times for an average of 51.8 yards, including a season-long 66-yarder, while pinning two inside the Miami 20.
Thoughts from Head Coach Rick Stockstill
“Fantastic win, extremely proud and happy for our players. It’s always fun to do stuff that no one thinks you can do. Coming down here 26 point dogs and kicking their butt like we did, because it was butt kicking, there was no fluke to this. Just really proud of our team. We were the tougher team here tonight, mentally and physically.
“We set the tone early, especially on defense. Just really proud of our team. A strong belief, the character that toughness, overcoming all the adversity. We never flinched. That’s what I’m proud of, we knocked these suckers off.”
Middle Tennessee will return home to Floyd Stadium to take on UTSA in the program’s annual Blackout Game. The Friday night kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network and the Blue Raider Radio Network.
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