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September 6, 2008

Raiders play keep away to top Terps

After watching Saturday's 24-14 Middle Tennessee win over Maryland, it's perfectly understandable if you feel a lot more familiar with the Maryland defense than the Terps' offense.

Middle Tennessee dominated the tempo and time of possession to assert full control of the game as the Blue Raiders claimed their first win over a major conference opponent not named Vanderbilt.

Maryland scored on two explosive plays, a 63-yard run by DaRel Scott on the Terps' first offensive possession and an 80-yard catch and run by Darrius Heyward-Bey in the third quarter.

But the Blue Raiders never let Maryland piece together a sustained drive, and the end result was Middle Tennessee winning the time of possession battle 39:49 to 20:11.

The Terrapins ran just 54 offensive plays compared to 82 for Middle Tennessee.

They had possession of the ball for only 2:10 in the first quarter as Middle Tennessee put together a 10-play scoring drive to start the game and another 13-play drive that ended with a missed field goal attempt by Alan Gendreau.

The Blue Raiders forced three first half 3-and-outs, including one momentum preserving defensive stand after the offense lost a fumble inside Maryland territory.

It wasn't a game controlling ground attack that allowed Middle Tennessee to own the game's tempo, but rather a crisp short passing game that had the Maryland defense on its heels all night.

Quarterback Joe Craddock took every snap and completed 28-of-40 passes for 256 yards a pair of touchdowns.

Craddock was on target in the short passing game and completed passes to nine different receivers, keeping the clock churning and the sticks moving.

The Blue Raiders struggled to move it on the ground and as a team averaged just 2.9 yards per rush.

But they managed to keep Maryland off balance with a mix of trickery and hard nosed football.

Stockstill called for a fake punt on the game's first possession, which David DeFatta and Alvin Ingle executed to perfection to keep a drive going that ended a Sancho McDonald touchdown pass.

A reverse to Malcolm Beyah netted a 16-yard gain later in the first quarter to preserve Middle Tennessee's second drive.

And when the offense moved inside the red zone, it delivered where it failed last week.

Utilizing a bigger formation that included an extra lineman, the Blue Raiders were able to pound Phillip Tanner in for their second touchdown of the game to claim a 17-7 lead.

The final scoreboard read 24-14, but MT's ability to control the ball and manage the clock made the spread feel much wider.


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