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Middle Tennessee handles UTEP 30-3

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Middle Tennessee held UTEP to just 137 yards of total offense, and the Miners continue to stumble offensively with their latest loss Saturday in Murfreesboro.

The 30-3 loss to MTSU drops UTEP to 0-9 on the season, two of the final three games left on the schedule are on the road, with an offense that is completely stuck in the mud.

UTEP and Georgia Southern are the lone win less teams in the nation heading into the final month of the regular season.

Ryan Metz returned at quarterback for UTEP, but was 10-for-23 passing for just 48 yards, and the Miners averaged just 2.5 yards per play on the evening.

It took UTEP nearly 20 minutes of football to pick up their first two first downs, and it was just another flat out, ugly offensive showing under Brian Natkin.

UTEP’s defense started strong out of the gates and for most of the first half, as MTSU would need a fake punt to set up their first touchdown drive of the game.

The Blue Raiders actually got on the board first with a 51-yard field goal by Canon Rooker at the 9:11 mark of the first quarter after another strong stand by the UTEP defense.

Ruben Garnett, a MTSU up back on their punt team, would take a direct snap on a 4th and third, giving MTSU a first down across mid-field. Then two plays later Brent Stockstill hooked up with Ty Lee for a long 41-yard touchdown pass making it 10-0 Blue Raiders.

UTEP picked up just a single first down inside their first six possessions of the game, gaining just 27 total yards on their first 20 plays.

MTSU went up 17-0 after an 11-play, 82 yard scoring drive capped off by Stockstill’s second passing touchdown of the half. He found Jimmy Marshall on a five yard touchdown connection with 4:35 left until halftime.

The Miners went into the half down 17-0, netting 56 total yards of first half offense, and just three first downs.

UTEP went three-and-out on their first second half drive, and gave up a 27-yard punt return setting up Middle Tennessee with an easy scoring drive that put the nail in the coffin early in the third quarter.

It took just two plays for Middle to make it 24-0 after the punt return with a Tavares Thomas two-yard touchdown run at the 13:23 mark in the third quarter.

UTEP finally stopped their second half scoring drought, albeit a short field goal after a 15-play, 67 yard drive with 6:37 left in the third. Freshman running back Josh Fields accounted for 57 rushing yards on the drive, and he finished with 87 yards rushing on 17 carries in the game.

Alan Luna punted nine times in the game for UTEP, racking up 414 yards of punts, with 46 yard per punt average.

Stockstill finished the night 13-for-30 passing for 190 yards, and three touchdowns, tossing his third score to make it 30-3 MTSU early in the fourth quarter. The Blue Raiders ran for 210 yards as a team.

The Miner defense actually played a respectable game of sorts. Nik Needham recorded an interception, and the unit forced three, three-and-outs.

But again, UTEP was unable to generate any sort of positive offensive drives, including two failed early second quarter drives in where field position was manageable for UTEP when the game was somewhat still within reach.

UTEP hits the road again next week as they head to Denton to face North Texas.