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November 26, 2008

Top five Floyd Stadium plays of 2008

The 2008 home schedule has drawn to a close and another season of Floyd Stadium moments has been added to the memory bank.

Today, we look back at the top five plays of the 2008 season at Floyd Stadium.

Number one was an easy pick, but what others will stick in the minds of Blue Raider fans?

Check out our countdown and let us know how you would rank your top memories.

1) 'Hope' wins it at the end

Opponent: Florida Atlantic
The situation: Trailing 13-7 and with the clock approaching zero, Middle Tennessee faced 4th-and-8 from the FAU 32-yard line with one last shot at victory.
What happened: Senior quarterback Joe Craddock called for the play offensive coordinator G.A. Mangus labels "Hope", a last gasp heave to the end zone where three Blue Raider receivers would be ready to fight for the ball. It had worked two weeks prior at Kentucky but Eldred King was tackled heartbreakingly close to the goal line. It worked to perfection this time. Craddock avoided a pass rush and launched the pass to the right front of the end zone, where freshman receiver Malcolm Beyah jumped as high as he could to get the first hand on the ball. As he crashed to the turf, he won the wrestling match for possession and secured the game winning touchdown in front of a near record crowd and national television audience. The ensuing extra point by Alan Gendreau won the game and set off a mob scene on the field as the student section poured out of the stands.


2) The history making clincher

Opponent: Maryland
The situation: Middle Tennessee had victory within its grasp as the Blue Raiders held a 24-14 late lead over Maryland, but the Terps were driving with still more than two minutes remaining. With memories of the 2006 home loss to Troy fresh on many fans' minds, it was very much still nailbiting time in Floyd Stadium as Maryland lined up for 1st-and-goal from the six.
What happened: Turner lofted a pass toward the right side of the end zone where he expected Heyward-Bey to win the fight for the ball and pull the Terps to within three points. Middle Tennessee cornerback Alex Suber ruined those plans though by leaping into the air to secure an interception. The Blue Raiders were able to run out the clock and set off a wild celebration that extended deep into the night as the program knocked off a BCS opponent inside Floyd Stadium for the first time.

3) Shoeless Beyah gets free

Opponent: Maryland
The situation: Middle Tennessee was clinging to a 17-14 lead over Maryland, but the Terps had the momentum following a quick strike 80-yard touchdown pass from Chris Turner to Darrius Heyward Bey. The Blue Raiders were facing 3rd-and-3 from their own 47 near the end of the third quarter.
What happened: Craddock made a quick throw to Beyah on the left side, who lost a shoe in the process of avoiding a tackler. One defender missed him with a lunge and Beyah was off to the races with only one shoe. He still had more than enough speed to sprint to the end zone to put Middle Tennessee's lead back to 10 at 24-14. The 53-yard touchdown was Beyah's second long touchdown reception in the first two games. He also had a 46-yard score against Troy in the opener.

4) Tanner makes it six

Opponent: North Texas
The situation: Middle Tennessee running back Phillip Tanner rolled to five touchdown runs in the first half to help the Blue Raiders explode to a 45-13 halftime lead over the Mean Green. He retreated to the goal line to receive the opening kickoff of the second half.
What happened: Tanner took the kick and worked his way to the right side of the field, where he ran through a couple of tacklers and sprinted past other would be defenders. By the time he crossed midfield, it looked like he might be able to go all the way. Once he tightroped the sideline and got beyond the North Texas 30 yard line, he was clearly headed for paydirt. The 92 yard kick return added a cherry on top to what was already and unforgettable day for the Dallas native.

5) Surprise, surprise!

Opponent: Maryland
The situation: On the opening drive of the game, Middle Tennessee marched from its own 20 to the Maryland 44. The Blue Raiders faced fourth down though when Desmond Gee was stopped short after a third down completion. Rick Stockstill called for the punting unit.
What happened: Stockstill said after the game he decided to run a fake punt if Maryland played the right coverage scheme. The Terps ended up playing right into Stockstill's hands. He dialed up a fake that punter David DeFatta and tight end Alvin Ingle executed to perfection. DeFatta lofted a pass to the left side where Ingle was standing wide open. The pass went for 28 yards inside the 20 yard line and led to a Middle Tennessee touchdown on the Blue Raiders' first series.



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