It was the Joe Craddock show for 59 minutes but teammate Bradley Robinson stole the spotlight with 45 seconds remaining in the game. Robinson returned a kickoff 89 yards to pay dirt to give the Blue Raiders a 43-40 victory over ULM.
Middle Tennessee was on the wrong end of the game’s ninth lead change with 57 seconds remaining as Zeek Zacharie found the end zone to give the Warhawks a 40-37 lead. However, the Blue Raiders added the tenth lead change on the following kickoff and ultimately picked up the victory.
Craddock put on a lights out performance, one of the best in school history, to keep the Blue Raiders in the title hunt. He connected on 22-of-29 passes for 401 yards and four touchdowns. Joe also proved he could get the job done with his legs as he rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown.
The 401 passing yards are the third most by a Blue Raider quarterback. His four passing touchdowns place him third on the MT all-time passing touchdowns charts. Craddock now sits atop the record books in total offense with his 471-yard effort on Saturday night.
Craddock also managed to be a part of ULM history on Saturday night. His 94-yard touchdown pass to Jonathon Grigsby is the longest reception in the history of Malone Stadium. That pass was also the longest pass completion in the FBS era for Middle Tennessee.
Middle Tennessee (5-5, 4-1) can thank its collective lucky stars tonight as they managed to win a conference football game while giving up 624 yards. Give the defense some credit, however, as they were able to come up large in key situations. Alex Suber and Robinson each tallied an interception and Derek Shropshire recovered a fumble.
Robinson finds himself moving up the all-time lists along with Craddock. His interception on Saturday was the 13th of his career. That puts him third all-time for the team and third on the all-time Sun Belt list as well. One more interception will put him in a tie for second on Middle’s list and a tie for first on the conference list.
Reigning Sun Belt Defensive Player of the Week Erik Walden did his best to be considered for the award again this week. He recorded a career-high 12 tackles on the evening. That’s five more than his previous career best.
Speaking of reigning Players of the Week, this week’s special teams recipient, David DeFatta, nailed a career-best 47-yard field goal to give the Blue Raiders a 3-0 lead in the first quarter. And while we’re on the career-best fiesta, Alex Suber recorded his personal best with 11 tackles against the Warhawks.
The ultimate result from Saturday night’s game is that Middle Tennessee is still in the thick of the conference championship chase. The Blue Raiders remain second in the Sun Belt, only one game behind Troy. The Blue Raiders return to Murfreesboro for the final home game of the season against Louisiana-Lafayette next Saturday.