MTSU gets spanked by Georgia

Sep 15, 2018 at 03:30 pm by Voice Wire

MTSU versus Georgia

ATHENS, Ga. - Middle Tennessee was tasked with facing its toughest competition of the season on Saturday and couldn't stand up against the No. 3 Georgia Bulldogs, falling 49-7.

Georgia (3-0) controlled the Blue Raiders (1-2) in almost every aspect of the game in front of a hostile crowd of over 92,000 at Sanford Stadium. However, MT head coach Rick Stockstill wanted his players to flush it after the contest.

"I'm proud of our team," he said. "Losing stinks, and we hurt, I hurt. But, I'm proud of that team in there, because it was tough sledding today ... [Georgia] showed why they're ranked where they are. They swallowed us up today."

It didn't take long to figure out which team was better on Saturday.

The defending national runners-up Bulldogs came out of the gates hot, scoring on their first drive of the game after running back Elijah Holyfield took a rush 66 yards to the MT 7-yard line.

As the first-quarter buzzer sounded, the Raiders found themselves in a 14-0 hole that would grow to 42-7 at the end of the first half.

"I thought we fought hard and competed ... but we kind of knew we were outmatched coming in and had to play a perfect game," redshirt senior quarterback Brent Stockstill said. "That's a really good team we just played."

The big plays MT allowed UGA was one of the storylines.

Georgia had seven offensive plays of 20 yards or more to go along with a 70-yard punt return for a touchdown.

"We gave up some big plays on some missed tackles," redshirt senior linebacker Darius Harris said. "We still have to improve on that. That's a major part, especially when you're playing a good team like today."

On the flip side, Middle Tennessee had one play of more than 20 yards.

With just over seven minutes remaining in the second quarter, redshirt senior Brent Stockstill hit fellow senior Patrick Smith along the right side, and the Nashville native skirted down the sideline for a 41-yard TD.

It was just the second play Georgia has allowed this season of more than 25 yards, and it extended Stockstill's streak of consecutive games with a touchdown pass to 26, the second longest active streak in the country.

Stockstill finished 19 for 29 for 138 yards, one TD and an interception. Smith was his favorite receiver, catching nine balls for 77 yards and the score. On the ground, the Blue Raiders were led by redshirt junior Terelle West, who rushed for 74 yards on 17 carries.

Defensively, MT was led by freshman Gregory Grate Jr. In his first career start, the Miami, Florida native racked up a team-high nine tackles.

Redshirt senior Jahmal Jones added a solo sack, while senior Wesley Bush and sophomore Jordan Ferguson had a half sack apiece.

While the game didn't go as Middle Tennessee had hoped, afterwards its head coach stressed how it wasn't indicative of how the team will perform in Conference USA play. The Raiders will get a much-needed bye in Week 4 before opening C-USA play against defending champion FAU on Sept. 29.

"I've never doubted the toughness of this team," Rick Stockstill said. "I'm proud of the leadership of this team, and I still believe in this team. I told them that after the game."

Josh Vardaman is the staff writer for Follow him on Twitter @J_Vardaman and also follow @MTAthletics for more on the Blue Raiders.

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