Brent Stockstill passed for 232 yards and two touchdowns and Middle Tennessee came up with some key stops to hold off Arkansas State 35-30 in the Camellia Bowl on Saturday night.
The Blue Raiders (7-6) ran out most of the final five minutes with a series of short passes from Stockstill after losing much of an 18-point lead over the Red Wolves (7-5).
Punter Matt Bonadies pinned Arkansas State’s prolific offense 91 yards from the end zone with 1:27 left and no time outs. Middle Tennessee defenders then sacked Justice Hansen three times, including one by Darrius Liggins on the final play.
That capped a wild game that included DJ Sanders’ 54-yard fumble return for a touchdown, six turnovers and 17 penalties.
The Blue Raiders won four of their final five games after Stockstill’s return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for half the season. He was intercepted three times.
The Red Wolves had cut a 28-10 deficit down to 35-30 on Justice Hansen’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Christian Booker with 5:03 left. Middle Tennessee milked most of the clock before punting.
Arkansas State was flagged for running into the kicker, a 5-yard penalty that wasn’t enough for a first down that would have effectively ended the game. The Red Wolves couldn’t get to midfield.
Middle Tennessee linebacker Darius Harris was MVP after collecting 12 tackles, a sack and two pass breakups.
Hansen completed 31 of 57 passes for 337 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. He had a 2-yard touchdown pass to Warren Wand after Arkansas State converted a fake punt with Cody Grace’s 21-yard pass to Chris Murray on fourth and 14. The two-point attempt failed.
Stockstill then swiftly gave the Blue Raiders a bigger cushion with a pair of big plays. He hit CJ Windham on a 34-yard catch and then threw a 30-yard touchdown to Shane Tucker.
Arkansas State then marched down to Middle Tennessee’s 1 with help from a couple of pass interference calls but the Blue Raiders held with Darryl Randolph’s tackle for loss and an incompletion.