Georgia Tech has become an ACC power thanks it to its triple-option offense.
On Saturday, though, Middle Tennessee State continually turned to one option to upend the Yellow Jackets. Former Goodpasture standout Benny Cunningham rushed for a career-high 217 yards and scored five touchdowns as the Blue Raiders in a stunning 49-28 road victory in Atlanta.
After being blown out by Georgia Tech the last two years, MTSU (3-1) picked up just its third win in 20 tries against schools from BCS conference since 2006. It also marks the third win this year for a Sun Belt Conference team against a BCS opponent. Louisiana-Monroe knocked off then-No. 8 Arkansas in its season opener and Western Kentucky upset Kentucky two weeks ago.
A key interception by Kenneth Gilstrap in the fourth quarter stymied a Georgia Tech rally. On the next drive, Cunningham scored from four yards out for a commanding 42-28 lead with 6:30 left. Cunningham scored for the fifth and final time with 1:17 left as he accounted for all 42 yards on the drive.
Georgia Tech (2-3) entered with the nation’s third-best rushing offense, averaging more than 352 rushing yards a game. But the Blue Raiders put the clamps on defensively, allowing just 238 rushing yards. They also forced four turnovers, including three fumbles.
MTSU’s offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, opening up holes for Cunningham. He burst through a huge window 10 seconds into the second quarter for a 60-yard touchdown that gave the Blue Raiders their first lead, 14-7, of the day. Georgia Tech kept answering and tied the game at 21 a minute before halftime.
MTSU created separation in the second half, outscoring the Yellow Jackets 28-7. The Blue Raiders wasted no time bursting out of the gate in the second half, with consecutive touchdowns. Cunningham opened the third quarter with a 23-yard touchdown run and Logan Kilgore closed it with a 75-yard strike to Marcus Henry to grab a two-possession lead for the first time. Kilgore finished with 246 yards on 17-of-23 passing for two touchdowns and one interception.
The Blue Raiders have won three straight since an embarrassing loss to FCS foe McNeese State to open the season. They now return to Sun Belt play as they host Louisiana-Monroe next Saturday in Murfreesboro.