Chase Cunningham throws four touchdowns as MTSU football whips UConn

Nate Tosado
Special to The Daily News Journal

Middle Tennessee State football  dominated UConn 44-13 in East Hartford, Connecticut, on Friday night.

“I’m really proud of our guys,” MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. “I thought it was great team effort, thought we played complimentary football with each other throughout the game. It’s hard to win on the road - it’s tough. I’m really proud of how we fought and competed tonight.”

Here are our takeaways from the Blue Raiders' blowout performance.

Chase Cunningham continues to dominate

MTSU quarterback Chase Cunningham has been a ray of hope for the Blue Raiders. Cunningham excelled at leading MTSU downfield drive after drive against the Huskies. He was able to connect with his receivers from all the points of the field with ease. In the first half he connected with Jimmy Marshal and Izaiah Gathings for three touchdowns.

The Huskies' defense had a difficult time getting to Cunningham as MTSU (3-4) did an excellent job protecting him and limiting the pressure throughout the game. When the pocket did collapse, Cunningham was able to scramble and continue the drive time and time again.

Cunningham finished 25-for-36 with 281 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.

“I’m super lucky to have all this talent around me.” Cunningham said. “The offensive line played great protected me all game. I’m super fortunate as a quarterback to have a lot of talent to throw to.”

Slow start for Blue Raiders

The Huskies (1-8) proved that they could hang with MTSU’s fast-paced offense in the first quarter. UConn was able to keep the Blue Raider scoreless in their first two opening drives. The Huskies even stopped MTSU in the red zone twice in the opening quarter.

For the other three quarters, it was all MTSU. In the second quarter the Blue Raiders would find their rhythm offensively. MTSU  scored 21 points in the second quarter.

The second half saw much of the same.

MTSU’s defense contributes to win

 MTSU's defense held UConn to 4 of 14 on third down.

MTSU entered the game ranked third nationally in forced turnovers with 17.

The Blue Raiders added to the total with two more interceptions for 10 on the season. They had  seven tackles for loss in the first half. The Blue Raiders' all-time tackle leader Reed Blankenship was a big part of shutting down UConn on various drives and responsible for a tipped ball that led to an interception.

Blue Raiders still looking to establish running game

Middle Tennessee’s running game has been a point of discussion. It  was limited against Liberty last week with just 35 rushing yards. Against the Huskies, the Blue Raiders were able run the ball more efficiently with 149 yards.

Senior running back Martell Pettaway  had a team-high 63 yards on 12 attempts. Junior Chanton Mobley added 48 yards on 13 attempts.