After upset over Yellow Jackets, Blue Raiders get stung by ULM
Middle Tennessee fell short in its homecoming week and first game following a dominant win at Georgia Tech with a loss to Louisiana-Monroe, 31-17 Saturday at Floyd Stadium.
MT faced a tough ULM team that was coming off a victory over then-eighth ranked Arkansas, as well as two very close losses to Auburn and Baylor; both strong teams.
The first scoring action of the game came in a career-long 44-yard field goal by MT kicker Carlos Lopez. The field goal was the result of a five-play drive that came after redshirt-junior linebacker Roderic Blunt intercepted the first pass of his collegiate career.
The field goal would be the last time the Blue Raiders would score in the first half because of third down conversions.
“Yeah, we didn’t play well on third downs,” said Tyrone Nix, co-defensive coordinator. “The perfect example came on a 14-play, 90-yard Warhawk drive in the second quarter that ultimately ended with a touchdown. The Raiders finished the half, only having stopped the Warhawks on two of their 11 third-down opportunities, allowing them to move the chains nine times in the first half on third down.”
MT Head Coach Rick Stockstill agreed.
“Third down,” Stockstill said, shaking his head. “We couldn’t get off the field on third down.”
Penalties were also a big killer for the Blue Raiders on Saturday. Many came at crucial times and led to calling back first downs or moving the ball back.
“I really thought we were our own worst enemy,” Stockstill said.
In last week’s historic win over Georgia Tech, the Blue Raiders dominated by leaving it all on the field, including their offense.
The offense that scored 42 points on the Yellow Jackets last week was not the same one that came to play against ULM, due to a lack of a solid run game. Coming off a five-touchdown week, Benny Cunningham still scored twice, but saw a significant reduction in caries.
The Blue Raiders also lost the game by losing the possession battle in a drastic manner. The Raiders had the ball for 20 minutes, while the Warhawks held the ball for almost 40 minutes.
“We could have executed better than we did tonight,” Stockstill said.
On the bright side, Benny Cunningham’s two touchdowns give him nine on the year, tying him for second most in NCAA Division I football.
After a disappointing loss at home, MT will look to rebound next week when they take on the FIU Golden Panthers at Alfonso Field in Miami, Fla., on Oct. 13.