Sunday, September 4, 2016

Alabama A&M Routed by Middle Tennessee State 55-0

MURFREESBORO, Tennessee – It didn't take long for Middle Tennessee to get in the end zone for the first time Saturday in its 55-0 win over Alabama A&M, and once it did the floodgates opened.

The Blue Raiders needed just 1:18 to find the end zone when redshirt senior I'Tavius Mathers, a Blackman product who came home to Murfreesboro prior to last season after three years at Ole Miss, capped the five-play, 61-yard opening drive with a 32-yard rushing score.

"I just saw the defense load up to the left and, I think, a corner was out on top of Demetrius [Frazier], and I just trusted the line to do their job and Demetrius to do his job; the rest is just me running into the endzone," he said. "I have to give credit to the offensive line and receivers for blocking it up and making my job easy."

Mathers finished with seven rushes for 62 yards and a touchdown, all in the first half, in his first game in front of his hometown crowd. Redshirt freshman Terelle West led the way on the ground with 83 yards on 15 carries in his first-ever collegiate game.

"I'Tavius had a couple of nice runs in there; I thought he did a really nice job … Terelle and Ruben, I thought they did a really good job," head coach Rick Stockstill said. "For the first game, and until you watch the film you never know, but I thought those guys competed really well."

With the running backs setting the tone on the ground, redshirt sophomore quarterback Brent Stockstill and the new-look Middle Tennessee receiving corps were free to go to work.

Stockstill completed his first 22 passes of the game, breaking the previous MT school record of consecutive passes completed of 19 set by Logan Kilgore in 2011. Stockstill completed 30 of his 36 throws in the first half for 329 yards, five scores and one interception before giving up the reigns to backup redshirt freshman John Urzua after halftime.

"First of all, I felt like Coach [Tony] Franklin did a great job preparing not only me but this team throughout the whole offseason," Brent Stockstill said. "Coming into the game I was extremely confident, and to complete 22 straight balls 22 guys have to catch it, so credit goes to those guys."

Stockstill threw three of his five touchdown passes in the first quarter. Two players on the receiving end of those – sophomore Desmond Anderson and redshirt junior Patrick Smith – were making their first starts at wide receiver for the Blue Raiders.

In total, three receivers – Anderson, Smith and redshirt senior Dennis Andrews – made their first touchdown grabs at Middle Tennessee. True freshman Ty Lee also made his first start at MT and finished with four catches for 42 yards, and redshirt sophomore Richie James led the team with eight grabs for 73 yards and a score.

"There were a lot of firsts out there," Rick Stockstill said. "But I thought we pitched and caught it pretty well."

While the Blue Raider offense was impressive, scoring 45 points in the first half alone and gaining 681 total yards in the game, their defense was equally strong in the shutout.

Alabama A&M gained just 146 total yards of offense and punted 13 times in 16 possessions. The Blue Raiders came up with four sacks and an interception, and were led in tackles by junior Malik Hawkins with six and redshirt junior Myles Harges with five.

Sticking with the theme of new guys making key contributions, Harges was making his first start at MT in his third game played, and Hawkins was wearing the blue and white for the first time.

"I've been ready to play for my team all year and all summer," Harges said. "I've been waiting for this since I got here."

Losing 30 lettermen from last year's team and suffering a few key injuries during the offseason have created plenty of chances for new guys to step in and contribute this season.

Early returns on most of those players are that they are ready to take the torch and lead the Blue Raiders to a special season this year in Murfreesboro.

"We had some young guys in there playing for the first time, and I think they did a really good job," Rick Stockstill said.

Middle Tennessee will return to action when it plays Vanderbilt in Nashville next Saturday at 3 p.m.

CAPTAINS: Today's game captains were OL Daniel Stephens, DL Raynard Felton and WR Demetrius Frazier.
HOME SWEET HOME: Middle Tennessee continued its strong play at home with the season opening win over AAMU. The Blue Raiders are now 18-3 at the friendly confines over its last 21 games and have won four straight.

FIRST TIME STARTERS: There were eight players who made their first Blue Raider start in tonight's game against AAMU. On offense, RB I'Tavius Mathers, WR Patrick Smith, and WR Ty Lee were all starters for the first time, while LB DJ Sanders, LB Myles Harges, LB Darius Harris, S Jovante Moffatt and S Alex Dale on defense.

STOCKSTILL SETS CONSECUTIVE PASS RECORD: Sophomore Brent Stockstill set a new school record when he connected on his first 22 passes in the win over AAMU. Stockstill broke the previous mark of 19 consecutive completed passes by Logan Kilgore in 2011. The record-breaking 20th straight completion was a 42-yard touchdown pass to Patrick Smith (the first TD of Smith's career).

STOCKSTILL MOVES PAST COLLIER: With 329 passing yards tonight against AAMU, Brent Stockstill moved past Marvin Collier for eighth place on Middle Tennessee's all-time list. Stockstill now has 4,375 career yards and will now look ahead to seventh place Teddy Morris (4,799).

JAMES JUMPS INTO TOP 10: With eight receptions tonight, sophomore Richie James jumped all the way to a tie for seventh place on the Blue Raiders' all-time list in just 14 games played. James now has 116 career receptions and needs six more to take over sixth place from Kyle Griswould.

NO. 9: QB Brent Stockstill added to his school career record of 300-yard passing games by throwing for 329 yards in the season opener tonight. Stockstill now has 9 300-yard passing games, including six in his last seven games.

SHUTOUT: Middle Tennessee threw a shutout in its season-opening win over Alabama A&M for its second goose egg under Tyrone Nix. It was also the first shutout by MT since blanking FIU, 48-0, on Nov. 9, 2013. The season-opening shutout was also the first by MT since 1986 when the Blue Raiders downed Miles, 47-0 at home.

MT SETS TOTAL OFFENSE MARK UNDER STOCKSTILL: The Blue Raiders recorded 681 yards of total offense against Alabama A&M, the most ever in Head Coach Rick Stockstill's tenure. MT was just four yards shy of tying the all-time mark of 685, which was set in a 70-58 win against Idaho on Oct. 16, 2001.

QUICK HITTERS: Today was the kickoff to the 102nd season of football at MT … DT Shaquille Huff started his team-leading 26th straight game today … Steven Rhodes, Shaquille Huff, Hunter Rogers and Demetrius Frazier all played in their team-leading 39th career game today … Desmond Anderson, who moved to WR in preseason camp, hauled in his first career TD reception in first quarter … WR Demetrius Frazier had just his second career TD reception … PK Canon Rooker attempted and made his first career field goal late in the first half from 25 yards out … Walk-on Patrick Smith made his first career start, hauled in his first reception and also recorded his first touchdown in win over AAMU … With 30 completions tonight, Brent Stockstill now has 359 for his career which moved him past Jonathan Quinn for 6th place all-time … Graduate transfer Deontay Evans recorded his first interception as a Blue Raider during the third quarter … Tonight was win No. 65 for Rick Stockstill … MT is now 49-4 under Rick Stockstill when scoring 30 or more points in a game.


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