Sep 24, 2022; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders quarterback Chase Cunningham (16) celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the Miami Hurricanes during the first half at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Chase Cunningham, Middle Tennessee blitz No. 25 Miami

Chase Cunningham passed for 408 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score as the visiting Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders upset the 25th-ranked Miami Hurricanes, 45-31, on Saturday afternoon.

MTSU’s DJ England-Chisolm caught two passes for 169 yards and two scores. Jaylin Lane had four catches for 130 yards, and Elijah Metcalf had one catch for a 69-yard score.

The Hurricanes (2-2), who have lost two straight games, benched star quarterback Tyler Van Dyke in the third quarter in favor of Jake Garcia.

Miami also suffered unspecified injuries to its top two running backs, Henry Parrish Jr. and Jaylan Knighton.

MTSU (3-1) knocked off an ACC team for the first since beating Syracuse in 2017.

The Hurricanes, who lost 17-9 last week to Texas A&M, struggled in the first half on Saturday, extending their streak to five consecutive quarters without a touchdown.

Miami turned the ball over on its first three possessions, falling behind 24-3 in the second quarter. All three turnovers occurred deep in Miami territory.

The Canes finally scored a touchdown on a six-yard near-lateral pass to Henry Parrish Jr. with 1:20 left in the second quarter, cutting the Canes’ deficit to 24-10.

In the third quarter, MTSU took a 31-10 lead on a 69-yard TD pass to Metcalf.

With 7:43 left in the third, Van Dyke was benched in favor of Garcia, who immediately led the Canes to a 72-yard TD drive. The key play was a 39-yard downfield pass to Key’Shawn Smith, which set up Thad Franklin’s one-yard TD run.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Miami was stopped on a fourth-and-goal incompletion. On the next play, Cunningham hit England-Chisolm on a fly pattern for a 98-yard score.

Smith took the ensuing kickoff for a 91-yard TD return, cutting Miami’s deficit to 38-24.

But MTSU added Frank Peasant’s one-yard TD run with 8:42 left to put the game away.

–Field Level Media

Sep 15, 2018; Toledo, OH, USA; Toledo Rockets head coach Jason Candle looks on during the fourth quarter against the Miami Hurricanes at Glass Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Nicholas Vattiato powers Middle Tennessee past Toledo

Nicholas Vattiato passed for 270 yards and two touchdowns to help Middle Tennessee record a 31-24 victory over Toledo on Friday in the Bahamas Bowl at Nassau, Bahamas.

Jarrin Pierce caught four passes for 114 yards and one score and Yusuf Ali also had a touchdown grab for the Blue Raiders (7-6). Mike DiLiello and Frank Peasant tacked on rushing scores as Conference USA’s Middle Tennessee scored 17 fourth-quarter points to win for the fifth time in its past seven games.

Bryant Roback gained 126 yards on 18 carries to top 100 yards for the sixth straight contest for Toledo (7-6), which had a three-game winning streak halted.

Roback became the fourth Toledo player to top 4,000 career yards. His total sits at 4,026, trailing only Kareem Hunt (4,945), Chester Taylor (4,849) and Wasean Tait (4,338).

Dequan Finn completed 18 of 39 passes for 212 yards, two touchdowns and one interception and also rushed for 83 yards and a score for the Rockets of the Mid-American Conference. Matt Landers caught four passes for 137 yards and a touchdown and DeMeer Blankumsee also had a scoring reception.

Middle Tennessee increased its national-best turnover count to 32 by forcing one. The victory put the Blue Raiders above .500 for just the second time all season — the other was after the season-opening win over FCS program Monmouth.

Toledo outgained the Blue Raiders 447 to 435.

DiLiello, a quarterback, scored on a 17-yard keeper on the first play of the final quarter to give the Blue Raiders a 21-17 lead. Later, Pierce shed the Toledo coverage and was wide open and Vattiato (23 of 35 passing) connected with him for a 59-yard scoring pass to push the lead to 11 with 6:24 remaining.

Just 46 seconds later, Middle Tennessee forced the turnover — the Rockets’ seventh of the entire season. Jordan Ferguson pressured Finn and the fluttering ball was intercepted by Zaylin Wood at the Toledo 23-yard line, setting up a 35-yard field goal by Zeke Rankin for a 31-17 lead.

Finn tossed a 13-yard scoring pass to Blankumsee with 1:08 left to pull Toledo within seven. Ali, however, recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Blue Raiders ran out the clock.

Toledo led 17-14 at halftime after Thomas Cluckey kicked a 32-yard field goal with 1:05 remaining.

Middle Tennessee struck first on Vattiato’s 6-yard scoring pass to Ali with 1:30 left in the opening quarter.

Toledo knotted the score when Finn exploded on a 40-yard run on fourth-and-1 and with 13:52 left in the half. The Rockets moved ahead when Landers made a great grab of Finn’s throw at midfield and turned it into a 90-yard touchdown with 11:11 remaining.

The Blue Raiders tied the score at 14 on Peasant’s 1-yard run with 8:58 left in the half.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2021; Blacksburg, Virginia, USA;  Virginia Tech Hokies quarterback Braxton Burmeister (3)throws a warmup pass before the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels at Lane Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

No. 19 Virginia Tech taking nothing for granted vs. Middle Tennessee

As far as Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente is concerned, the challenge this week is simple.

“Turn the page,” he said.

That’s because the Hokies can’t bask in the laurels of their 17-10 season-opening win over then-No. 10 North Carolina any longer. There’s another game this week as Middle Tennessee comes to Blacksburg, Va., for a Saturday matchup.

And this is the type of game that Virginia Tech, which entered the Associated Press poll Tuesday at No. 19, has tripped up on in recent seasons. More than once after winning a big game against a Top 25 team, it’s followed up with a stupefying loss.

There was a 49-35 defeat at Old Dominion in 2018 less than three weeks after a dominating season-opening win at then-No. 19 Florida State. And a 31-17 loss at lightly regarded Syracuse back in 2016 after the Hokies routed then-17th-ranked North Carolina 34-3 the week before.

That’s why Fuente has an extra sense of urgency this week.

“Just take last week and put it in the bank, put it to the side and focus on our nonconference schedule,” he said. “You play nonconference games for postseason recognition, and it starts with Middle Tennessee this Saturday.”

Regardless of who the Hokies play, if their defense plays as fast and as firm as it did against North Carolina, they’ll give everyone fits. Second-year coordinator Justin Hamilton’s unit looked a lot like a Bud Foster defense, recording six sacks and intercepting Sam Howell three times.

Chamarri Conner recorded the game-clinching interception with 37 seconds left, topping off a performance that saw him record a team-high eight tackles. He was named Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Back of the Week.

Offensively, Virginia Tech wasn’t spectacular, but did keep the ball for nearly 35 minutes as it got an efficient performance from quarterback Braxton Burmeister. He was 12-of-19 for 169 yards and an 11-yard touchdown pass to tight end James Mitchell late in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, Middle Tennessee opened last week with a 50-15 victory over FCS opponent Monmouth, although the final score doesn’t indicate that the game was competitive for three quarters.

The Blue Raiders never trailed but led just 28-15 early in the fourth quarter before putting the game away with 22 points. They cashed in four turnovers for 27 points and also scored their first touchdown on Jaylin Lane’s 70-yard punt return 16 seconds into the second quarter.

Middle Tennessee used three quarterbacks against Monmouth. Bailey Hockman started and threw a pair of touchdown passes in the last two minutes of the first half to snap a 7-7 tie. The Blue Raiders managed just 360 yards of offense.

Coach Rick Stockstill says this week provides unique obstacles for his team, including a seven-hour bus ride Friday from Murfreesboro, Tenn., to Blacksburg, Va.

“We’ve got to be able to handle that and then be ready for a loud stadium,” he said. “They were extremely loud last week against North Carolina, and we expect the same things this week.”

This will be the first meeting of the programs.

–Field Level Media

Oct 31, 2020; Durham, North Carolina, USA; Charlotte 49ers head coach Will Healy during the first quarter of the game against the Charlotte 49ers at Wallace Wade Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaylynn Nash-USA TODAY Sports

Charlotte-Middle Tennessee PPD due to COVID-19

Charlotte postponed Saturday’s Conference USA game at Middle Tennessee due to a cluster of COVID-19 cases in the 49ers’ program.

Charlotte athletic director Mike Hill made the announcement Friday and said the schools are hoping to reschedule the contest.

“We are extremely disappointed to have to postpone our game at Middle Tennessee. Our coaching staff and players were looking forward to the Conference USA matchup,” Hill said. “The health and safety of everyone involved, however, remains the top priority during these challenging times.”

It is the fourth game Charlotte has either canceled or postponed.

The next game scheduled for the 49ers (2-3, 2-1 C-USA) is at home against Gardner-Webb on Nov. 14. The Blue Raiders (2-5, 2-3) are set to play the same day at No. 16 Marshall.

On Wednesday, Conference USA rescheduled seven games that were postponed earlier in the season. One of those was Charlotte’s Oct. 17 home game against Florida International that now will be played Dec. 5.

–Field Level Media