Raiders Fall Short at AlabamaSeptember 3, 2005 · MT Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Middle Tennessee trailed by only two points at halftime, but the homestanding Alabama Crimson Tide scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to defeat the Blue Raiders, 26-7, in the season opener for both teams Saturday night at Bryant-Denny Stadium.
The Blue Raider defense played very well in the first half, forcing a pair of punts and intercepting one pass, as sophomore Bradley Robinson made his third career pick. UA sacked quarterback Clint Marks in the end zone for a 2-0 advantage at the end of the first period, and scored on a one-yard run from Tim Castille early in the second quarter.
But Middle Tennessee answered with a nine-play, 80-yard drive midway through the second period, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass from Marks to Nick McAfee, cutting the deficit to two points at the break.
Alabama scored on its first possession of the third quarter on a TD pass from Brodie Croyle to Tyrone Prothro. The Middle Tennessee defense stiffened after the ensuing kickoff was fumbled, forcing a missed field goal, but the Crimson Tide scored on its next possession, with Castille punching in his second one-yard run of the contest.
Ryan Saxby completed the scoring in the game with a 32-yard field goal early in the final period.
Marks completed 12-of-18 for 117 yards and one touchdown, while Cleannord Saintil was the big target of the night, snagging five balls for 64 yards. The Blue Raiders managed only 22 yards of total offense in the second half.
Middle Tennessee opens the home schedule next Saturday at Floyd Stadium, hosting North Texas at 6 p.m.
MCAFEE IS MR. TD: Senior fullback Nick McAfee does not have his number called very often, but when he does it usually means six for the Blue Raiders. In the second quarter, McAfee hauled in a 14-yard reception from Clint Marks to put the Blue Raiders on the scoreboard for the first time in 2005. For his career, McAfee now has 11 receptions and four of those have been for touchdowns.
MARKS TIES HALLUM: QB Clint Marks' 14-yard touchdown pass to Nick McAfee in the second quarter was the 22nd of his career. That total ties Bob Hallum for eighth place on the all-time touchdown passes list. Marks needs six more to tie Jonathan Quinn for seventh. Marks passed for 117 yards in the contest and needs only 37 more yards to surpass Andrico Hines for eighth place on the all-time list.
HENRY EXTENDS STREAK: WR Chris Henry extended his streak to 18 consecutive games with at least one reception when he hauled in his first pass of the 2005 season during the third quarter at
ELARBEE IN RARE COMPANY: First year tight ends coach Glen Elarbee has the distinction of playing in the 2002 MT-Alabama game and today participated in the MT-Alabama series as a full-time coach. Elarbee, a two-time all-conference performer, started at center in the 2002 game.
ROBINSON GETS PICK: Sophomore defensive back Bradley Robinson made a beautiful interception against Brodie Croyle toward the end of the first quarter to halt the Crimson Tide's momentum following a safety. Robinson picked the pass off at the two-yard line when Croyle went for a bomb from about 60 yards out. It was Robinson's third career interception. His previous two picks came last year against
FIRST ACTION: The following Middle Tennessee players played in their first collegiate game as a Blue Raider: S Lonnie Clemons, S Reggie Doucet, LB Chance Dunleavy, DL Trevor Jenkins, OL Brandon Nix, DL Brandon Perry, LB J.K. Sabb, RB Alex Suber and WR Bobby Williams.
QUICK HITTERS: Today's captains were Clint Marks, Jonathan Bonner, Chris Henry, and Jeff Littlejohn ... Middle Tennessee gave up a safety in the first quarter to mark the first time a Blue Raider team has surrendered a safety since Louisiana-Lafayette registered one against MT on Oct. 19, 2002 ... Offensive guard Brandon Nix made his first collegiate start today against Alabama as did fullback Hunter Birtsch (lined up as an H-back) ... OT Germayle Franklin made his 18th straight start today which is a team-best ... The Blue Raiders used 47 players in the first half ... MT is now 2-12 all-time against the SEC ... The Blue Raiders are now 0-9 against nationally-ranked teams since joining the I-A ranks in 1999 ... MT is now 55-32-2 in season-opening games ... Linnie Yarbrough made his second career reception in tonight's game ... Freshman Alex Suber caught the first two passes of his career and also rushed seven times ... Tonight's announced attendance of 81,018 marks the largest crowd the Blue Raiders have ever played in front of in the opening game of the season, besting the mark of 80,091 in 2002, against Alabama at Legion Field in Birmingham ... Clint Marks went 12-for-18 passing in the contest, his least number of completions as a starter since completing seven against Idaho and nine versus New Mexico State during the 2003 season, his only two starts that year.
Follow the Blue Raiders on Twitter @MTAthletics for continued updates.
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