The annual Salute to Veterans game at Floyd Stadium was meaningful in more ways than one for MTSU football. First and foremost it gave area folks an opportunity to say thanks to those who have served these United States. But this gridiron battle also provided a chance for a Blue Raider bunch to keep their bowl hopes alive.
The goal of every team at the beginning of the season is a post-season trip. A destination and match-up with someone you don't normally see is a reward for a successful trip through what can be some trying times. Injury and other factors have made the 2022 season a bit challenging for head coach Rick Stockstill and his team. With both hands on the wheel, the veteran leader drove his team into the November 12 game with Charlotte with eyes on the here and now.
With many familiar faces on the injured list, Stockstill and the Blue Raiders put the pieces to the puzzle together and turned cold hands into warm hearts with a 24-14 win against the 49ers. Senior Jordan Ferguson's return of a blocked punt tied the game early in the third quarter and from there the Raiders seized control. Tough running by Frank Peasant and a determined defense led by safety Tra Fluellen's 16 tackles keyed the second-half surge. Even though this was not a "beauty contest" win, it still provided a tremendous sense of satisfaction for a team that found a way.
"We are just a tough, hard-nosed blue collar football team right now", says Stockstill. "We've got an unselfish bunch."
Now standing at 5-5, Middle Tennessee State will welcome Florida Atlantic (5-5) to Floyd Stadium on November 19. Kickoff is slated for 2:30 pm.