Tigers Open Season With 33-7 Over Jaguars
The Tennessee State Tigers opened their 2011 football season with a resounding 33-7 win over the Jaguars of Southern University in the John Merritt Classic, played in front of 25,209 fans at Nashville's LP Field.
TSU rolled up 512 yards of Total Offense (342 rushing, 170 passing), while limiting Southern to 300 yards of Total Offense (37 rushing, 263 passing). The 342 rushing is a JMC record eclipsing TSU's 279 yards against Alabama State in 1999. The 512 yards of Total Offense ranks second (530 vs. Alabama State, 1999). Southern's 37 yard rushing total was the second lowest by a team in the John Merritt Classic (13, Alabama A&M, 2009). The Tigers rolled up a JMC record 29 first downs (20 rushing, 8 passing, 1 penalty) while allowing just a record low 12 first downs by the Jaguars ( 1 rushing, 9 passing, 2 penalty).
Individually, several Tigers turned in stellar performances. Sophomore running back Trabis Ward had a career day rushing for 141 yards on 18 carries with 1 TD. Ward racked up 157 yards in All-Purpose yardage. Senior safety Joe Wylie opened the TSU scoring with a 59 yard interception for a touchdown in the first quarter (9:58). Senior linebacker Rico Council led the Tigers' defense, recording 9 (solo) tackles, with 3 tackles for loss (17), 2 sacks (12) and 1 interception (4).
Southern's top offensive performance game from freshman quarterback J.P. Douglas who was inserted into the game in the third quarter and on his first collegiate pass tossed a 66 yard TD to Jordan Bilbo. Douglas finished the game completing 7-of-15 passes for 141 yards with 1 TD and 1 interception. Starting quarterback Dray Joseph was 9-of-18 for 122 yards and 1 interception.
On the game, Tennessee State put 13 points on the board in the first quarter after Wylie's 59-yard interception return (9:58) and Trabis Ward's 5-yard touchdown blast (6:01) for a 13-0 lead after a missed PAT.
In the second quarter, the Tigers capped an 80 (12 play) drive with senior Dante' Thomas' 4-yard blast (11:52) and finally on a Travis James 11-yard TD reception from Jeremy Perry (2:51), pushing the score to 27-0 at halftime.
Southern put the only points on the board in the third quarter on the Douglas 66 yard pass (8:29) to close the score to 27-7 after three periods.
The Tigers tacked on two field goals by Jamin Godfrey in the fourth quarter as he booted FG's of 20-yards (12:05) and 42-yards (00:53).
The win marks the end of a six-game losing streak and gives TSU a 1-0 record heading into next week's match-up with rival Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic in Memphis, Tennessee.
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