MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) - Georgia Tech crashed Middle Tennessee State's 100-year anniversary party Saturday night, rolling out to a 28-0 lead before a special birthday cake was even rolled out at halftime.
The Blue Raiders' 49-21 loss to the visiting Yellow Jackets (2-0) also spoiled a night on which MTSU set a Floyd Stadium attendance record with an announced crowd of 30,502. Middle Tennessee (0-2) started off the centennial celebration by giving up a 73-yard scoring pass on the first play from scrimmage.
``I want to win. It doesn't matter whether it's one person or 30,000 in there,' MTSU coach Rick Stockstill said. ``I want to win, and our players want to win. That's the bottom line.'
Tech quarterback Tevin Washington, who threw for two long touchdowns and ran for two more, hit Tony Zenon down the left sideline for the long touchdown 14 seconds in the game.
``Coach (Paul) Johnson let us know about it,' Washington said about MTSU's 100-year birthday celebration. ``He let us know they were going to be that much more ready to play. We had to come out and give them our best shot.'
Johnson also had seen on film that he could get the Yellow Jackets in man-to-man coverage with a linebacker on the opening call.
``Coach Johnson told me we were going to run it that whole time, so I was just trying to get in there and just focus on getting open and catching the ball and trying to get in the end zone,' said Zenon, who scored his first career touchdown.
Georgia Tech was the third Atlantic Coast Conference visitor to MTSU's stadium since the Raiders moved up to the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1999. But the Yellow Jackets were the first to blow out the Blue Raiders, with Virginia winning by only two in 2007 and Maryland losing in 2008.
Ironically, former MTSU head coach Andy McCollum, fired in 2004 after losing four straight home-openers before big crowds, was sitting in the coaches' box as a defensive assistant for Georgia Tech.
The Blue Raiders finished with 342 yards and scored two TDs in the fourth quarter, one in the final minute, but gave up 596 yards - 382 rushing - in the home-opener.
``We've got a little adversity from this. We got beat. We had a great crowd. It was loud and enthusiastic,' Stockstill said. ``I wish we could've given them more to be fired up about. But I hope it's not a one-shot deal.'
Benny Cunningham led MTSU with 80 yards rushing and a touchdown on 15 carries, while Logan Kilgore was 16 of 28 for 114 yards passing and an interception.
One week after rolling up over 600 yards and scoring 63 points against Western Carolina, the Yellow Jackets proved their triple-option attack could score quickly through the air or grind it out on the ground.
Tech went to the ground for all 17 plays on its second possession to score on a 98-yard drive after MTSU had downed its first punt at the 2. Tech took 9:25 off the clock in that drive, had five different ball carriers and made six first downs before Washington scored on a 2-yard keeper for a 14-0 lead.
``I knew they were tired, because we were tired,' Tech running back David Sims said.
MTSU started its second possession at its 40 when the kickoff went out of bounds, and Kilgore hit Anthony Amos for a 20-yard pass on first down. But the Blue Raiders' drive stalled at the Tech 29 and Alan Gendreau missed wide left on a 46-yard field goal attempt.
The Yellow Jackets then went back to the air and again scored on one play, this time needing 11 seconds on Washington's 71-yard pass play to Stephen Hill. Hill was hit by defenders around the 32, but broke loose for the 21-0 lead at 2:12 left in the first quarter.
Middle Tennessee got good field position when Eric Russell returned the kickoff 39 yards to the MTSU 44. The Blue Raiders even converted on a fourth down when Cunningham ran a fake punt for 18 yards. Two plays later, however, Isaiah Johnson picked off Kilgore's pass at the Tech 10.
This time, Georgia Tech mixed up the pass and the run to build the 28-0 lead on Washington's 7-yard keeper with 10:45 remaining before halftime.
``When you play a Georgia Tech, you can't give up big plays like we did tonight,' Stockstill said. ``If we could've made a field goal and scored one more touchdown in the first half, things would've looked a lot better.'
Tech rolled up 242 yards of offense in the first quarter and had 350 by intermission.
Middle Tennessee finally put together an 11-play scoring drive to get on the scoreboard 3:12 before halftime. D.D. Kyles kept dragging defenders into the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown run.
``I feel like our offense is kind of designed to play from behind,' Cunningham said about playing from behind at 28-0. ``But we kept driving the ball and driving the ball, but we weren't getting any points.'
The Raiders didn't score again until Cunningham's 1-yard run with 13:06 remaining in the game. After both teams swapped fumbles, Kilgore lateraled to Andrew Banks, who threw to Cunningham for a 27-yard gain to the Tech 11.
MTSU's backup quarterback Jeff Murphy threw an 18-yard TD strike to Sancho McDonald with only 53 seconds to go.
Washington was 5-of-8 passing for 202 yards and left in the third quarter. Sims and backup quarterback Synjyn Days led Tech's rushers with 91 yards each.
The Yellow Jackets tacked on another touchdown midway through the third quarter on Orwin Smith's 2-yard run. Georgia Tech put in Days on the next series, and he scored twice on touchdown runs.
The Associated Press News Service
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