Blue Raiders Fall to Dukes in Season Opener

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Middle Tennessee football never got going on Saturday evening, failing to find a rhythm on offense as they fell to James Madison 44-7 in Bridgeforth Stadium.

The Blue Raiders (0-1, 0-0 C-USA) gained just 24 total yards of offense in the first half, while the Dukes (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt) gained over 300 yards with a 20:08 time of possession, putting MTSU behind 21-0 at the halftime break.

Yusuf Ali got MTSU on the scoreboard late, fighting through a deflection to secure the Blue Raiders’ first touchdown of the season on 26-yard touchdown pass from Chase Cunningham in the third quarter. Kyle Ulbrich helped MTSU flip the field, averaging 42 yards per punt while trapping JMU inside the 20 twice on the evening.

By the Numbers

  • 69: MTSU blocked its 69th kick in program history when Jordan Ferguson burst through the Dukes’ line and swatted away JMU’s first quarter attempt. It’s the 49th blocked kick for MTSU under Rick Stockstill

  • 4/7: On MTSU’s seven first half offensive drives, the Blue Raiders went three-and-out four times.
  • 11: Safety Teldrick Ross set a new career high with XX tackles against James Madison. The Macon, Ga. native’s previous career high in tackles was nine against Charlotte in 2021.

Blue Raider Notes
CAPTAINS: Today’s game captains were Yusuf Ali, Chase Cunningham, Jordan Ferguson, Jaylin Lane, and Ja’Kerrius Wyatt.

200: Today’s game marked the 200th for Rick Stockstill as a head coach. He is one of just three coaches all-time at MTSU to coach the Blue Raiders in at least 200 games.

HE’S BACK: After missing the final five full games of the 2021 season, quarterback Chase Cunningham is back healthy and earned the start against JMU tonight. As a starter, Cunningham entered tonight’s game averaging 302.0 passing yards a game on the road (3 total games). Prior to tonight, the last time Cunningham saw action in a game was on Oct. 30, 2021, at home against Southern Miss.

FIRST CAREER BLOCK FOR FERG: Jordan Ferguson collected his first career blocked kick when he swatted down James Madison’s 38-yard field goal attempt on the game’s opening drive. Ferguson’s block continued a consistent trend under head coach Rick Stockstill. The Blue Raiders have 49 total blocked kicks in 200 games under Stockstill, and they have blocked at least one kick in each of his 17 seasons.

DISRUPTIVE FORCE: Jordan Ferguson picked up where he left off last season with a dominating performance at JMU. Ferguson stuffed the stat sheet with eight tackles, four solo, while also adding one sack, one tackle for loss, one pass breakup, a quarterback hurry and a forced fumble. For good measure, he also blocked a field goal.

TIMING IS EVERYTHING: Jordan Branch’s second career sack came at an opportune time as it ended JMU’s second possession of the second quarter. Branch entered the game with 1.5 career sacks after being shut out in that category last season. He had one sack in 2019 and was credited with a half sack in 2020.

CAREER NIGHT FOR ROSS: Safety Teldrick Ross had a strong breakout game against JMU. Ross established a new career high with 11tackles, including six solo stops. Ross’ previous high was nine against Charlotte in 2021.

FIRST TIME STARTERS: The following players made their first Blue Raider starts tonight in the season opener at JMU.
Offense: 79 Sterling Porcher, 70 Tyler Falvey, 5 Bud Tolbert
Defense: 40 Drew Francis

QUICK HITTERS: DE Jordan Ferguson made his team-leading 23rd consecutive start against JMU today … Ferguson also played in his team-leading 46th career game

Up Next
Middle Tennessee will continue its two-game road trip next Saturday in the Rocky Mountains, as the Blue Raiders face off against Colorado State. Kickoff is set for 3 p.m. CT.

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