Recap: Middle Tennessee vs. Southern Miss
Murfreesboro, TN (SportsNetwork.com) - Austin Grammer completed 21-of-26 passes for 332 yards and two touchdowns, as the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders claimed a 37-31 win over Southern Miss in a Conference USA tussle at Floyd Stadium.
Reggie Whatley ran for 100 yards and a touchdown, while Devin Clarke caught four passes for 106 yards and a TD in the win. Shane Tucker scored twice on the ground and also had a team-high six catches for the Blue Raiders (4-2, 3-0 C-USA), who remain unbeaten in league play.
The Golden Eagles (2-4, 0-2) are still winless in their league slate, despite 426 yards and three touchdowns through the air from quarterback Nick Mullens. Michael Thomas had a busy day in a losing effort, as he caught nine passes for 114 yards and two TDs. George Payne headlined USM's ground game with 89 yards and a score on 24 carries.
After the teams traded field goals to start the first quarter, Middle Tennessee grabbed a 10-3 lead on a 1-yard touchdown plunge by Tucker with 2:43 to play in the opening frame. That score was set up by a 59-yard kick return by Whatley down to the USM 36.
The Golden Eagles registered their first touchdown on a 1-yard run by Payne in the opening minute of the second quarter. However, the PAT was blocked and Middle Tennessee maintained a 10-9 lead.
The Blue Raiders responded with a big play on their very next play from scrimmage, as Grammer found Terry Pettis for a 59-yard scoring strike.
Tucker broke loose for a 44-yard touchdown run at the 5:12 mark of the second quarter to give Middle Tennessee a 24-9 advantage.
A 26-yard field goal by Golden Eagles kicker Corey Acosta with 2:23 remaining in the half made it a 24-12 game.
After a scoreless third quarter, Grammer gave the Blue Raiders a 31-12 lead on a 33-yard touchdown pass to Clarke with 12:26 to play in regulation.
Southern Miss answered with a TD on its next possession as Mullens found Thomas for a 17-yard scoring strike, although the 2-point conversion attempt failed.
Middle Tennessee needed only three plays to respond, however, as Whatley burst free for a 64-yard touchdown run to stretch the margin to 37-18 with 8:41 remaining.
USM responded with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Mullens to Thomas just over a minute later, and the Golden Eagles tacked on one more touchdown on an 8-yard pass from Mullens to Marquise Ricard in the final seconds.
The Golden Eagles racked up 30 first downs but the defense simply had no answer for Middle Tennessee's ground game, which churned out 239 yards (6.1 ypc) and three TDs on the day.Game Notes