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Blue Raiders preparing for final 2009 home game

MT-ASU to kickoff at 3:37 PM Saturday

November 20, 2009 · Athletic Communications

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - With a chance to set a record of five consecutive wins in the Rick Stockstill era, and to increase the chances of being invited to a post-season bowl game, Middle Tennessee takes on Sun Belt Conference rival Arkansas State Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm.

A win would also make the Blue Raiders 8-3 on the season to match the most victories in the FBS era with the 2001 team.

The game will be televised on both ESPN GamePlan and online at ESPN360.com. It will be produced for the Sun Belt Network by MTSU Mass Communications students.

Head Coach Rick Stockstill indicated that his Blue Raider offense will have their work cut out for them.

"Arkansas State has the number one defense in the Sun Belt Conference. They are high, if not number one, in all defensive categories," declared Stockstill. "This is the best defense we have seen in the last five or six weeks, including Mississippi State."

Junior offensive lineman Mark Fisher concurs.

"They are a very physical team up front. Five of their front seven were pre-season All-Conference. They are very sound."

It will be Senior Day for 16 Blue Raiders who will play their last home game on Saturday. They include defensive stalwarts Danny Carmichael and Cam Robinson (linebackers), Chris McCoy (end), Brandon Perry (tackle), and cornerbacks Alex Suber and Marcus Udell.

On offense, five players will be honored. The list includes center Mark Thompson, running back Desmond Gee and receivers Patrick Honeycutt, Gene Delle Donne and Chris McClover.

Punter David DeFatta is also a senior, with both Honeycutt and Gee playing on special teams as well. A trio of walk-on's, QB Nick Coleman, running back Craig Heyward, and defensive back Sherman Neal will also be honored in pre-ceremonies, as will wide receiver Michael Cannon, who missed the entire season with a fall camp injury.

Middle Tennessee's four-game win streak has the Blue Raiders in a tie for second-place in the Sun Belt Conference with a 5-1 league record and an overall mark of 7-3. The Raiders have an 8-2 edge against Arkansas State in the series, and a 6-2 margin in Sun Belt games. ASU won last year's game in Jonesboro, 31-14, to end Middle Tennessee's winning streak over the Red Wolves at five.

Middle Tennessee enters game 11 with high national rankings, both offensively and defensively.

Quarterback Dwight Dasher is ranked fifth in the nation in total offense at 304 yards per game, and is also the nation's 34th most productive passer.

Sophomore place kicker Alan Gendreau ranks 31st in scoring with 82 points on 16-18 field goals and 34-35 extra points. Gendreau is a Lou Groza Award candidate.

On defense, linebacker Danny Carmichael leads the nation in forced fumbles with six, while end Chris McCoy is 11th nationally in tackles for loss with 15.5, accounting for 51 total yards in losses.

Cornerback Marcus Udell has six interceptions this season to rank 3rd nationally in that category.

As a team, Middle Tennessee ranks 3rd nationally in tackles for loss, 8th in forced turnovers and 10th in sacks. The Blue Raiders lead the Sun Belt in forced turnovers, sacks and interceptions, while ranking second in scoring defense, pass defense and red-zone defense.

In addition to the ESPN coverage, the game will be aired on the Blue Raider Network, with Chip Walters and Kelly Holcomb describing the action. Affiliates are WGNS 1450AM, 101.5 FM and WMOT-FM 89.5 in Murfreesboro, WNSR AM 560 in Nashville, and 103.9 FM in Bowling Green, KY.

Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.