TSU (3-5, 2-3 OVC) took an early three point lead, but EKU (4-3, 3-1 OVC) never looked back taking a 14-6 advantage into the half. The Tigers cut the deficit to five points in the fourth quarter, but an EKU touchdown late in the game gave the Colonels their third consecutive victory.
EKU notched 21 of their points off of Tennessee State turnovers as the Colonels snapped a two-game losing skid to the Tigers. Offensively, Tennessee State put together 408 yards offense including 343 from the passing attack.
Senior Jeremy Perry completed nine passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. Perry connected on a career-long 89 yard pass to Calvin McNairl in the fourth quarter to the cut TSU's deficit to 27-22 with eight minutes remaining.
The pass to McNairl was the longest for a TSU quarterback since Riley Walker's 99-yard touchdown pass in 2004 against Jacksonville State. McNairl, a native of Paris, Tenn., caught six passes for a team-best 146 yards and a touchdown.
Tailback Trabis Ward led the TSU rushing attack with 12 carries for 36 yards. Dante' Thomas rushed for 25 yards and a touchdown, moving into fifth all-time in school history. His career total of 1,661 yards surpassed Lee Derricks' (1953-1955) total of 1,641.
Freshman Daniel Fitzpatrick put together a career game, recording 14 tackles and a tackle for loss. Rico Council followed second on the team with 12 tackles. TSU forced one fumble in the second half.
On special teams, freshman punter Matt Moseley once again recorded a strong performance breaking his own school record. In the third quarter, Moseley launched a 73-yard punt to pin back the Colonels. Mosley's previous best was a 69-yard punt at Air Force on Sept. 24.
Jamin Godfrey hit a career-high 48-yard field goal to put the Tigers up 3-0 to begin the contest. Godfrey finished the game 3-for-4 in field goal attempts.
EKU responded defensively with a 79-yard pick six from Justin Bell with 1:41 left in the first quarter.
TSU then drove 11 plays and 47 yards as Godfrey connected on a 39-yard field goal to narrow the deficit to 7-6 with 7:15 in the first half.
A Tennessee State fumble late in the half gave the Colonels prime field position. The Colonels responded with a 19-yard pass from T.J. Pryor to Tyrone Goard to give EKU the 14-6 edge at the half.
Moseley set a new school punting record with a 73-yard punt in the third quarter. TSU then forced its' first turnover in the game as Joseph Wylie swiped away the ball and senior linebacker John Jones picked up the recovery.
The Tiger utilized the opportunity with a six play, 43- yard drive capped off by a two yard touchdown run by Travis James.
On the next drive, Eastern Kentucky responded with a near five minute drive. Matt Denham tallied a four-yard touchdown to give the Colonels the 21-13 edge with 4:54 left in the third quarter.
Another TSU interception gave the Colonels a great opportunity to extend the lead.
Perry entered the game in the third quarter and threw a 49-yard pass to Ward that placed the Tigers in the red-zone. Godfrey hit his third field goal of the night, a 20-yard to make it a 27-16 score.
On the next TSU possession, Perry threw an 89-yard pass to McNairl to narrow the Tigers deficit to 27-22. EKU then responded with a 29-yard Denham touchdown to go up 33-22 with 4:53 left in the game.
The Tigers take a bye week next weekend before ending the three-game road swing with a visit to Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. in Charleston, Ill.
NOTES: EKU won toss and elected to defer...TSU football players and coaches wore a No. 61 decal in honor of TSU faculty athletic representative Dr. Jesse James who passed away on Wednesday afternoon...Godfrey's 48-yard field goal was the second longest in school history...German's passing streak ended at 137 passes without an interception...In the second quarter, senior tailback Dante' Thomas moved into TSU's top-5 all-time with a six yard run to pass Lee Derricks' total of 1,641 yards...Donte' Nicholls recorded his first sack of the season...Quarterback Jeremy Perry saw action in the third quarter...Perry's 89-yard touchdown pass was the longest since Riley Walker to Fred Burnette's 99-yard completion in 2004...Donte' Nicholls recorded a blocked extra point attempt with 4:53 left in the game...Matt Moseley set a school record 73-yard punt in the third quarter...Moseley averaged 50.8 yards per punt on Saturday...The Tigers lost to EKU for the first time since 2007.
TSU Head Coach Rod Reed Quotes
"They gained over 250 yards rushing, anytime you do that, allow a team to run the football on you, I do not see very much success happening. We pride ourselves on stopping the run and we did not do that today and it cost us. Ultimately it was the turnovers. They converted them into points. You take the turnovers out and it is a different game."
On his team's effort
"You do not see any quit in this football team, that is the main thing. The guys fought until the end. And we are going to continue to build on this. We have a lot of young guys. We only have eight seniors on this team. And this has to be a learning experience for them. If we want to win in this conference, then we have to win on the road. You have to win against all odds."
On honoring TSU faculty athletic representative Dr. Jesse James
"This is a tough one on me and a tough one on a bunch of the guys in the program. Dr. James is not only our faculty rep, not only an instructor, but he is a mentor to me and a mentor to a couple of coaches on this staff. A TSU alum and has probably been on this campus since he was 18. Playing football and coaching. We are deeply sorry about the loss of Dr. James. Not only was he a mentor, but he was a very close friend. Our prayers and our heart go out to his wife Jennifer James, our compliance officer, and the James family. We wore a #61 sticker for him today and we will wear it for the rest of the season."
Senior Wide Receiver Calvin McNairl
On catching the 89-yard pass
"We were lucky to catch them off-guard. It was there all game, but we did not take advantage of it. That brought us back, but we just were not able to capitalize."
On the upcoming bye week
"We have a bye week so we are going to get healthy. Get everybody healed up and we are still going to go back to work. Just like we are number one in the conference."
-- TSU TIGERS --