MTSU Defeats Toledo At 2021 Bahamas Bowl

MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill hoisting the Bahamas Bowl trophy with the team. Photo: Courtesy of Middle Tennessee Athletic Department

Middle Tennessee State University football pulled off a comeback against Toledo to win the 2021 Bahamas Bowl 31-24 at Thomas Robinson Stadium on Friday, Dec. 17.

The Blue Raiders trailed at halftime 17-14 but went on to outscore Toledo 17-7.

“I’m really proud of our team,” MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill shared in a postgame press conference. “The toughness, the guts, the competitiveness, the resilience, the mental toughness they showed today was fun to watch. I told them at halftime that I believed in them and I believed they were made of the right stuff. They were made of the right stuff.”

Middle Tennessee’s freshman quarterback Nicholas Vattiato was named offensive player of the game after completing 23-of-35 passes for 270 yards and two touchdowns. Meanwhile DQ Thomas earned defensive player of the game, leading the Blue Raiders with eight tackles and 1.5 tackles for loss, holding the Rockets to just 4-of-15 on third down.

“It was something that we planned going in,” explained Vattiato. “Me and Mike both knew the game plan and we felt comfortable with it going in. We had practiced it the last two weeks… I think that we both did a great job and it become more comfortable running in and out throughout the entire game, and that benefited our team.”

The win is Middle Tennessee’s first bowl win since their 35-30 win over Arkansas State in the 2017 Camellia Bowl. The win also improves the Blue Raider’s record to 7-6, securing their first winning season since the 8-6 2018 C-USA East Champions campaign.

Steven Boero