NASHVILLE, Tenn. – After dropping last week’s contest to Eastern Illinois, 34-16, the Tennessee State football team looks to get back to its winning ways this weekend when the squad travels to Eastern Kentucky for a tilt with the Colonels.
The loss at the hands of the Panthers was the first in Ohio Valley Conference play for the Tigers (7-2, 4-1 OVC) this season, and ended their seven-game winning streak.
There were some bright spots for the TSU defense as junior linebacker Nick Thrasher notched a game-high 10 tackles (seven solo) and forced a fumble. He is now sixth in the league in tackles with 68.
Defensive ends Antonio Harper and Anthony Bass also came up big for Tennessee State, combining for 11 stops, four tackles for loss, three sacks and a fumble recovery. Bass is fifth in the nation in sacks with 7.5, while Harper is third in the OVC in the category with five.
Offensively, TSU was forced to throw the ball more than usual in hopes of a comeback, and Ronald Butler reaped the benefits. The Tallahassee, Fla. native set career-highs in completions (24), attempts (45), yards (212), carries (nine) and was turnover free. The first-year starter has turned in a solid 2013 campaign, holding a 61 percent completion rate and a nine-to-three touchdown to interception ratio.
Senior running back Tim Broughton continued his charge for the OVC rushing title against the Panthers, gaining 93 yards on the ground on just 16 carries. Broughton has had at least 80 yards in each of TSU’s past eight contests and is first in the league with 918 yards.
Running lanes for Broughton and the Tigers could be few and far between against EKU (5-3, 3-1 OVC) as the Colonels are tops in the conference in rushing defense (103 yards per game). Eastern Kentucky also ranks second in total defense, directly behind TSU.
EKU’s unit doesn’t have a single standout; rather it has been a team-wide effort with five players recording at least 30 stops on the year. Tyler Horn is the high man with 37 tackles and has also picked off a pass and forced a fumble.
Quarterback Jared McClain has led the Colonel offense this season and has accounted for 1,480 total yards, good enough for fourth in the conference. The dual-threat junior has thrown nine touchdowns on the year and has run for a team-best six more.
The Tigers are 5-20 all-time against Eastern Kentucky, but have won three of the last four meetings including last year’s thrilling, 23-20, victory in Nashville.
TSU will face off against EKU on ESPN3 on Saturday, Nov. 2 with kickoff slated for 12:04 central time.