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Middle Tennessee shows its strengths, beating FIU 37-17

On homecoming, the Blue Raiders were able to correct errors and play a clean game.

Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

After a rough outing in Florida last week, the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders came out strong against the Florida International Panthers, jumping out to an early lead and winning 37-17. For the Blue Raiders, it was a convincing performance, winning every almost every stat category against a very solid FIU team that is leading the East division of Conference USA currently.

The Blue Raider offense had a great day, scoring on seven of nine drives that didn’t end with the clock running out without stars Brent Stockstill and Richie James. Backup quarterback John Urzua had one of his best outings ever, throwing for 250 yards and a touchdown on 31 attempts. He was not asked to do too much all game, which allowed him to keep control of the game, unlike past performances.

But, the biggest thing about his performance, as well as the offense in general, was not giving up any turnovers. It was the first game all season Middle Tennessee hadn’t turned over the ball, which allowed the team to stay on schedule and finish drives.

A game changer for this Blue Raider offense was linebacker-turned wildcat quarterback Tavares Thomas. The high school running back was inserted on offense for the first time all season, used in goal line positions to pound it in for three touchdowns on the day. Also on the ground, freshman Brad Anderson was able to find some space and rush for over 100 yards for the second time this season.

The Blue Raider defense looked improved after last weeks embarrassment against FAU. It started by shutting down the FIU rushing attack, holding them to 91 yards on the day and making them one dimensional. From there, the Blue Raider secondary was able to hold veteran quarterback Alex McGough in check, holding him to just over 200 yards and touchdown on the day.

The Blue Raiders now move to 3-3 on the season and will travel to Birmingham to face UAB next week, while FIU moves to 3-2 and will face Tulane at home next week.