COLLEGE FOOTBALL RECAP

MTSU outguns Arkansas State for Camellia Bowl win

Sports Xchange

December 16, 2017 at 10:27 pm.

Dec 16, 2017; Montgomery, AL, USA; Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill (12) throws the ball against the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the first quarter in the 2017 Camellia Bowl at Cramton Bowl. Photo Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 16, 2017; Montgomery, AL, USA; Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders quarterback Brent Stockstill (12) throws the ball against the Arkansas State Red Wolves during the first quarter in the 2017 Camellia Bowl at Cramton Bowl. Photo Credit: RVR Photos-USA TODAY Sports

Middle Tennessee quarterback Brent Stockstill overcame three interceptions to throw for 232 yards and two touchdowns Saturday night as the Blue Raiders outlasted Arkansas State 35-30 to win the highest-scoring Camellia Bowl in Montgomery, Ala.

Stockstill’s 30-yard touchdown pass to Shane Tucker with 12:08 left in the game gave Middle Tennessee (7-6) a 35-23 lead. The Red Wolves (7-5) drew within five points on a 41-yard scoring strike from Justice Hansen to Christian Booker with 5:03 remaining.

Arkansas State got the ball back at its 9-yard line with 1:27 left and no timeouts. It reached its 47, but Hansen was sacked on the final two plays of the game to clinch the Blue Raiders’ first bowl victory since the 2009 New Orleans Bowl.

Stockstill completed 19 of 35 passes, while Hansen was 31 of 57 for 337 yards with three scores and an interception. The Red Wolves’ Justin McInnes caught seven passes for 107 yards, including a 20-yard scoring strike with 6:19 left in the third quarter.

Arkansas State lost despite outgaining Middle Tennessee 462-352. The teams combined for six turnovers and 17 penalties in a game that lasted nearly four hours.

The Red Wolves initiated scoring just over three minutes into the game when Sawyer Williams converted a 20-yard field goal on its first possession. The 35-yard drive was set up by the first of two first-quarter interceptions thrown by Stockstill.

The Blue Raiders took a 7-3 lead with 9:25 left in the first quarter when Terelle West burst 45 yards up the middle, one play after a roughing-the-punter call turned a three-and-out into a first down.

Middle Tennessee upped the margin to 14-3 with 5:41 left in the second quarter with a defensive touchdown. D.J. Sanders scooped up a fumble as Hansen was sacked, and he lugged it 54 yards for the score.

Hansen cut the deficit to 14-10 with a 1-yard sneak, finishing a 13-play, 85-yard drive.

The Blue Raiders responded with Stockstill’s 31-yard scoring strike to Ruben Garnett with 45 seconds left in the half. The 50-yard drive was aided by two 15-yard face-mask penalties on Arkansas State.

NOTES: Middle Tennessee’s defense made significant strides this year, rising from 96th to 30th in total defense before Saturday. … Arkansas State played just 11 regular-season games because its home game with Miami (Fla.) on Sept. 9 was canceled. The Hurricanes opted not to travel because of concerns about getting home after Hurricane Irma. … Blue Raiders QB Brent Stockstill threw a touchdown pass in his 23rd straight game, the third-longest streak in FBS behind Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and Trace McSorley (Penn State).