Vattiato's 3 TDs, 342 yards lead Middle Tennessee past UTEP, 34-30

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Nicholas Vattiato threw three touchdown passes and accounted for 342 yards of Middle Tennessee's offense as the Blue Raiders held off UTEP, 34-30 in their home finale on Saturday.

The sophomore threw for 242 yards on 18-of-35 passing and added 100 yards on 14 carries.

Middle Tennessee (4-7, 3-4 Conference USA) built 10-point leads twice only to see the Miners rally to tie.

Vattiato hit Holden Willis with a 62-yard touchdown pass to take a 14-7 lead after one quarter, but Torrance Burgess Jr. returned a punt 54 yards to pull UTEP even at 14-14 to start the second quarter. Vattiato and Willis combined on a 17-yard touchdown and Zeke Rankin kicked a 38-yard field goal for a 24-14 lead midway through the second quarter but Deion Hankins capped a nine-play, 85-yard drive with a 2-yard run in the final minute to get UTEP within three, 24-21 at intermission.

After the Miners tied the game with a 33-yard field goal by Buzz Flabiano to start the third quarter, Vattiato hit Zack Dobson from 56-yards out and Rankin connected on a 24-yard field goal and a 34-24 lead to start the fourth quarter.

Cade McConnell was 24 of 41 for 364 yards passing with two touchdowns and an interception for UTEP (3-8, 2-5).


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