Stockstill paces Middle Tennessee past Syracuse
Quarterback Brent Stockstill led Middle Tennessee on a game-winning drive as the Blue Raiders upset Syracuse 30-23 on Saturday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, N.Y.
After Syracuse tied the score at 23, Stockstill capped a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with his 12-yard touchdown toss to wide receiver Shane Tucker, who finished the play by leaping over a Syracuse defender with 6:46 left.
Stockstill converted two big plays for the Blue Raiders (1-1) — a 29-yard completion to wide receiver C.J. Windham and a 12-yard pass to wide receiver Ty Lee on third-and-3 from the Orange 24.
Syracuse (1-1) marched into Middle Tennessee territory on its next possession, but Middle Tennessee cornerback Reed Blankenship made a diving interception at the 24-yard line. The Orange did get the ball back in the closing minutes, but defensive tackle Malik Manciel’s sack set up a fourth-and-15 that Syracuse couldn’t convert.
Stockstill completed 22 of 36 passes for 269 yards and three touchdowns, also rushing for 41 yards on 11 carries. Syracuse quarterback Eric Dungey completed 26 of 42 attempts for 180 yards and one touchdown, and he gained 53 yards on 19 carries.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Middle Tennessee grabbed a 23-16 lead on Stockstill’s 48-yard pass down the right sideline to Lee. Dungey and the Orange answered with an 11-play, 75-yard drive that ended with Dungey’s 29-yard touchdown run on a keeper up the middle.
Leading 13-9 at halftime, Syracuse boosted its advantage to 16-9 midway through the third quarter but temporarily lost Dungey, who was knocked out of the game on an illegal hit by defensive end Walter Brady. Brady, assessed a roughing-the-passer penalty, was ejected for a hit near Dungey’s head.
Zack Mahoney replaced Dungey and led the Orange into Blue Raiders’ territory before Cole Murphy connected on a 40-yard field goal.
Syracuse forced Middle Tennessee to punt on its next possession, but returner Sean Riley dropped a fair catch and the Blue Raiders’ Ruben Garnett recovered at the Syracuse 29. On third-and-9 from the 28, Stockstill found wide receiver Richie James on a crossing pattern for a game-tying touchdown.
Dungey returned to the game and marched the Orange to the Blue Raiders’ 22. Syracuse decided to try a field goal on fourth-and-1 from the 22, and Murphy’s 40-yard attempt was wide right.
Syracuse led only 13-9 at the half despite forcing three Middle Tennessee turnovers in the first quarter and driving four times inside the Blue Raiders’ 10-yard line.
At the end of the first quarter, Syracuse recognized about 40 returning members of the 1987 team that went 11-0-1 and received a No. 4 ranking in the final AP poll. Syracuse’s only other undefeated team was the 1959 squad that won the national championship.