The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® series continues by remembering the only teams to win an OVC Championship in Tennessee State football history.
In 1998 under the guidance of head coach L.C. Cole, the Tigers won nine games including six in the OVC to take the conference championship. TSU had an even better season the following year, going undefeated and winning another conference title.
The key to the team's success those two years was its explosive offense. The Tigers scored 430 points in 1998 and 426 in 1999 which rank second and third on the all-time scoring list.
The focal point of the offense was the passing game led by quarterback Leon Murray. Murray became the only Tiger to throw for more than 400 yards in a single game in 1998 en route to 3,002 yards. Murray also tossed 22 touchdown passes in 1998 and 18 in 1999. Most of those scores were received by Tyrone Butterfield in 1998 and the two-headed attack of Corey Sullivan and Avion Black in 1999.
In the game against Southeast Missouri in 1998, Butterfield caught a school-record 13 passes, helping him tie for the all-time record of 72 passes caught in a single season. In the game versus Murray State, Butterfield had a TSU-record 249 receiving yards in the Tigers' thrilling 46-44 victory.
Sullivan and Black combined to catch 116 passes for 1,816 yards in 1999. Six of Sullivan's 66 catches went for touchdowns, while Black played the role of a down-field threat by averaging 19 yard per reception for 894 yards.
Black was also arguably TSU's greatest return man. In 1999 alone, he had four kickoff returns for touchdowns including a school-record two returns of 100 yards. He also holds the mark for the highest kickoff return average with 37 yards per return. That means that the Tigers averaged great field position whenever Black returned a kick.
Black's big-play ability allowed him to get drafted by the Buffalo Bills in the fourth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.
Defensively, the 1998 and 1999 Tigers were anchored by defensive end Lamar Carter. Carter left TSU with 40.5 sacks which is 1.5 more than both Richard Dent and Claude Humphrey, and two more than Joe "Turkey" Jones and Ed "Too Tall" Jones. The team also featured a pair of dominant linebackers in Ed Sanders and Brent Sterling who combined for 197 tackles in 1999.
Overall, TSU had five All-Americans on the championship teams and compiled a 13-1 record in the OVC.
The 100 Moments of TSU Athletics presented by Taco Bell® highlights some of the greatest moments in honor of Tennessee State's centennial celebration. A new moment will be released each weekday for a total of 100. These moments were chosen by the TSU 100 Moments committee, which consists of alums from various departments. TSU has so many great moments, not all can be represented in these 100.
Sports Information Assistant Alex Mitchell contributed to this article.
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