Salter passes for 2 TDs, Cooley runs for three TDs, Liberty beats Middle Tennessee 42-35

Tue, Oct 17, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)

Salter passes for 2 TDs, Cooley runs for three TDs, Liberty beats Middle Tennessee 42-35

LYNCHBURG, Va. (AP) - Kaidon Salter threw two touchdowns passes and added 160 yards rushing, Quinton Cooley scored three rushing touchdown and Liberty beat Middle Tennessee 42-35 Tuesday night.

Salter was 12-of-20 passing for 140 yards and Cooley had 123 yards rushing on 22 carries for Liberty (7-0, 5-0 Conference USA).

Cooley's third touchdown, a 10-yard run, made it 35-all late in the third quarter and a few plays later Brylan Green forced a fumble that was recovered by Kobe Singleton and gave Liberty possession at its own 42. Salter ran for a 10-yard gain on a third-and-14 but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty gave the Flames a fresh set of downs and, on the ensuing play, threw a 37-yard TD pass to CJ Daniels that capped the scoring with 14:37 to play.

The Middle Tennessee (2-6, 1-3) offense stalled on each of its next two drives before a 12-yard punt gave the Blue Raiders possession at the Liberty 23 with 5:17 to play. One play later, Nicholas Vattiato had pass a pass intercepted by Preston Hodge in the end zone and, after another short punt and a couple Middle Tennessee first downs moved the ball to the 38, Green picked off a fourth-and-8 pass to seal the win.

Vattiato completed 24 of 37 passes for 332 yards and four touchdowns - all to different receivers - but was just 2-of-10 passing for 17 yards with two interceptions in the fourth quarter. Zack Dobson scored on a 2-yard touchdown just before halftime and caught a pop pass at the line of scrimmage, got a block from wide receiver Taharin Sudderth, and raced down the right sideline for a 72-yard TD that gave the Blue Raiders a 35-28 lead 6:10 left in the third.

Liberty, which joined the conference in July, became the first team in history to win its first five C-USA games. First-year coach Jamey Chadwell became the only Flames coach to win each of his first seven games with the team, breaking the record set by Sam Rutigliano, who won his first six games as Liberty head coach in 1989.

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AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll

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