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Sunday, Sep. 25, 2016

Johnson: Raiders help their own cause

Monday, November 10, 2008

Middle Tennessee's Eldred King hauls in a 15-yard touchdown pass.
(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
MURFREESBORO -- When you're trying to build a football program and increase fan attendance, it's important to win home games and especially homecoming.

With that said, it was a good weekend for Middle Tennessee.

The Blue Raiders welcomed back a number of former players along with a lot of alumni and they didn't let any of them down by claiming a huge 24-21 win over Louisiana-Monroe in a Sun Belt Conference clash at Floyd Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Some 16,000-plus were in attendance as the Blue Raiders ended a three-game losing streak.

Three games remain on the schedule and if Middle Tennessee can find a way to win at Western Kentucky next week and North Texas at home the week after, it would set up a chance for the Blue Raiders to finish the season 6-6 with a win in their final game of the regular season at conference-leading Louisiana-Lafayette on Dec. 3.

That along would be another step in the right direction.

Third-year Middle Tennessee coach Rick Stockstill has shown he has the ability to take the program where Blue Raiders fans expect it to go. He's put together and maintained an outstanding coaching staff, shown he can recruit, and added discipline to this football program.

Look for good things to happen in the next few years because the Blue Raiders are very young.

On the two-deep chart of 44 offensive and defensive players, the Blue Raiders have eight seniors, 12 juniors, 14 seniors and 10 freshmen.

Only one senior, quarterback Joe Craddock, is on offense, which includes eight sophomores and eight freshmen.

Junior linebacker Danny Carmichel brings down ULM's J.J. McCoy after a short gain.
(T-G Photo by Gary Johnson)
Put a few more notches in the win column and a couple of wins like the one over Maryland earlier this year and Floyd Stadium will become a happening place to be.

Until that happens, the Blue Raiders have got to win their games at home and of course ... homecoming.

For the record, Middle Tennessee improved to 47-19-2 on homecoming with that win over ULM, including 2-1 record under Stockstill.

The Blue Raiders have now won 18 of their past 21 homecoming games. That's bound to make former players and alumni happy.

Gary Johnson is a Times-Gazette sports writer. He can be contacted at gjohnson@t-g.com.

Gary Johnson
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