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September 7, 2008

Five who shined: MT 24, Maryland 14

Saturday night's 24-14 Middle Tennessee win over Maryland will live in Blue Raider lore for a long time.

It took a total team effort from Rick Stockstill's squad to pull off the win over the Terrapins, but GoMiddle.com takes a look at the top five performers.

FIVE WHO SHINED: MT 24, Maryland 14
Joe Craddock

Craddock completed 28 of 40 pass attempts for 256 yards to go along with a pair of touchdown tosses. He also ran the ball nine times for 28 yards. Craddock took every snap behind center for the Blue Raiders in arguably the program's most important victory and he was poised and confident throughout the game. His accurate arm in the short passing game controlled the tempo of the game and he didn't make any mistakes with the football to cost his team.
Malcolm Beyah

When the Blue Raiders opened camp this summer, the receiving unit was one of the biggest question marks facing the offense. That seems like a long time ago now. Freshman Malcolm Beyah has been the best answer to that question so far. Beyah had four catches for 94 yards against the Terps. However, it was a 53-yard hook-up from Craddock with 22 seconds left in the 3rd quarter that put the game out of reach. What was even more impressive is that after he caught the ball, Beyah lost his shoe and was still able to pull away from all defenders and take it to the house.
Danny Carmichael

With the exception of two big plays by Maryland, the Blue Raiders were dominant on defense. It was such a great team effort that it's difficult to find anyone who stands out based solely on statistics. Therefore, the big plays make the best impression. Carmichael had one of the biggest plays of the game when he intercepted a Chris Turner pass and returned it 25 yards inside the Terrapin 10 yard line. The crucial pick led to a one yard Phillip Tanner touchdown run that put the Blue Raiders ahead by a two possession margin.
The Blue Raider offensive line

The offensive line has been the most closely followed unit since the start of fall camp, and the Blue Raider front showed immense growth against the Terps. MT didn't allow any sacks and Craddock had plenty of time to throw the football as the Blue Raiders rotated several bodies in the trenches. This young offensive line has matured a great deal over the past few weeks. Offensive line coach Jimmy Ray Stephens can take much of the credit for their vast improvement in a relatively short amount of time, and getting a mostly healthy Mark Fisher back in the lineup at right tackle has been a huge plus. With the exception of two holding calls early in the 1st quarter, the offensive line played about as well as can be asked of such an inexperienced group.
Alex Suber

Suber had just three total tackles against Maryland, but the redshirt junior from Tampa made the game clinching play when he grabbed an interception in front of star receiver Darrius Heyward-Bey with the clock ticking under two minutes. That play sent Floyd Stadium into an eruption and allowed the Blue Raiders to end their first home win over a major conference opponent in relaxed fashion rather than having to sweat out an onside kick and last minute rally.

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