Middle Tennessee squandered a couple of good opportunities in the first half of Saturday's 31-14 loss at Arkansas State, which ultimately put the Blue Raiders in too deep of a hole to escape.
Here's a series-by-series look at the Blue Raiders' effort in Jonesboro.
Plays: 9 Yards: 38 Mix: 3 run/5 pass Result: Alan Gendreau missed 44 yard field goal
Best play: On third and six on the drive's third play, quarterback Joe Craddock connected over the middle with Wes Caldwell for a 17-yard gain and a first down into Arkansas State territory. Worst play: On first down from the ASU 30 yard line, Phillip Tanner was dropped for a six yard loss in the backfield when ASU's Levi Thompson burst through the line to blow up the play. Notes: Caldwell caught two passes on the series and Craddock connected with three receivers total on the opening drive ... Gendreau's missed field goal dropped him to 2-for-5 on the year
Plays: 4 Yards: 17 Mix: 1 run/3 pass Result: Punt
Best play: Craddock took off on a designed quarterback run on the first play of the series and picked up 13 yards up the middle. Worst play: A false start on 4th-and-short allowed ASU to get its punt return unit on the field after MT had briefly acted as if it would go for the first down before sending the punt team out. Notes: Craddock made a smart throw away right after his initial first down run. He rolled to his right looking for Sancho McDonald but sailed the ball high and out of bounds when he couldn't find a clear throwing lane.
Best play: Dwight Dasher ran right on a designed keeper on the drive's first play and sprinted 12 yards for a first down. Worst play: Dasher lofted a deep pass down the right sideline into single coverage but was intercepted by ASU cornerback Dominique Williams. Notes: Dasher quarterbacked his first series since the season opener against Troy ... MT got favorable field position to start the drive after Desmond Gee returned ASU's kickoff 37 yards out to near midfield.
Plays: 3 Yards: 3 Mix: 3 run/0 pass Result: Punt
Best play: None Worst play: On 3rd-and-6 Dasher ran a keeper to the right side but was dropped for a one yard loss by ASU's Brian Flagg. Notes: The possession started at the end of the first quarter but the period ended after the second play of the series ... MT punter David DeFatta had his kick downed at the one yard line thanks to the hustle of Gee and freshman Jawan Carson. Gee reached the ball in time to tip it backwards and Carson followed by killing it near the goal line.
Best play: On first down from the ASU 35 yard line, Craddock rolled to his right and fired a strike on the move to freshman wideout Malcolm Beyah for a 15-yard gain and a first down at the 20. Worst play: On 2nd-and-8 from the 18, Craddock let fly a poor throw that was intercepted by ASU's Daylan Walker just in front of the goal line. With the Blue Raiders driving in what was a 10-0 game at the time, the mistake was a critical turning point. Notes: Beyah deserves a lot of credit for hustling downfield to make an emphatic tackle on Walker after the interception. It appeared Walker had a chance for a huge return when he moved past the 30 yard line, but Beyah hustled behind the play to knock him down ... MT tried a trick play on the fourth play of the series when a reverse to Gee netted five yards ... Craddock had completed both of his pass attempts on the drive for 29 yards prior to the interception
Plays: 5 Yards: 12 Mix: 1 run/4 pass Result: Punt
Best play: On 2nd-and-10, the Blue Raiders picked up a first down when Craddock connected over the middle with Chris McClover on a 13-yard gain. Worst play: Facing a 3rd-and-11 from midfield, Craddock tried to hit Sancho McDonald for the first down but threw behind him and the pass fell incomplete. Notes: The final incompletion that forced the punt ended up being very costly, as the clock stopped with barely a minute remaining in the half and gave ASU enough time to tack on another touchdown just before halftime.
Plays: 3 Yards: -3 Mix: 1 run/2 pass Result: End of half
Best play: None Worst play: With the clock winding down and the Blue Raiders in need of at least a field goal before the half, Craddock was sacked by ASU's Alex Carrington for a nine yard loss on the first play of the series. Notes: After falling behind 17-0, Gee's 37-yard kickoff return gave MT great field position to try and put some points on the board before halftime.
Plays: 3 Yards: 9 Mix: 1 run/2 pass Result: Punt
Best play: None Worst play: None Notes: The Blue Raiders opened the second half with a very pedestrian three-and-out after ASU had gone on a long touchdown drive to take a 24-0 lead.
Plays: 9 Yards: 76 Mix: 3 run/6 pass Result: Phillip Tanner two yard touchdown run
Best play: On 2nd-and-7 from the ASU 38, Craddock connected with Patrick Honeycutt on a 31 yard pass that helped the Blue Raiders move into scoring territory. Worst play: None Notes: The Blue Raiders put together their first sustained drive of the game that resulted in points for the offense and never had a single negative play ... Craddock completed 4-of-6 passes on the drive for 66 yards
Plays: 7 Yards: 80 Mix: 3 run/4 pass Result: Honeycutt three yard touchdown reception from Dasher.
Best play: Craddock rolled to his right and found Beyah on the move for a huge 53-yard gain that got even sweeter when ASU was whistled for a face mask penalty that pushed the ball inside the 10 yard line. Worst play: Facing third-and-goal from the two, Tanner was decked for a one yard loss by Greg Hardy and Brian Flagg. Notes: Dasher entered the game on second-and-goal after Craddock was shaken up on a five yard run on first down ... Dasher's touchdown pass to Honeycutt was reviewed by replay officials but was confirmed to have been a catch and a touchdown
Best play: Craddock connected with Eldred King on a 16-yard gain to give MT a first down out across the Blue Raider 40 yard line. Worst play: Craddock was sacked by Carrington on the final fourth down play when Carrington was able to blow by MT tight end Gene Delle Donne in a one-on-one blocking situation. Notes: This was MT's final possession of the game ... Honeycutt caught four passes during the series.