Alternate quarterback Mike DeLiello ran for 77 yards and a pair of touchdowns and the Middle Tennessee defense had five takeaways as the Blue Raiders beat South Mississippi 35-10 on Saturday.
In addition to DeLiello’s 6- and 14-yard touchdown passes, Middle Tennessee (4-4, 2-2 Conference USA) scored a blocked punt, a fumble and an interception. The Blue Raiders entered the game tied with Iowa for the national lead with 20 forced turnovers.
DeLiello, who came on in the first quarter for injured Chase Cunningham (lower body), completed eight of 12 passes for 78 yards. DeLiello had only attempted three assists this season. Trailing 7-0, DeLiello converted a fourth pass to DJ England-Chisolm on the way to his 6-yard TD to tie the score at 7-7.
Less than a minute later, Tra Fluellen scored 18 yards after a blocked punt and Middle Tennessee led the rest of the way. Jordan Branch added a 29-yard fumble return as the Blue Raiders led 21-7 at halftime.
DeLiello added a second touchdown and DQ Thomas added a 43-yard intercept return for a second-half touchdown.
Jake Lange threw for 166 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted twice and sacked seven times for Southern Miss (1-7, 0-4). Frank Gore carried 20 times for 83 yards.
Conference USA’s demise continued as Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky were under consideration as the Mid-American Conference considers expansion.
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