NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Coming off of arguably the biggest win of the head coach Rod Reed-era, the Tennessee State football team looks to keep its winning streak intact when the squad travels to Martin, Tenn. for a 1 p.m. meeting with the Skyhawks.
TSU (6-1, 3-0 OVC) defeated Jacksonville State, 31-15, for the second time in school history on Saturday for its sixth straight victory.
In that contest, the No. 1 ranked Big Blue defense stole the show with a herculean effort that included halting the Ohio Valley Conference’s top rushing offense to a measly 21 yards. The Gamecocks even had problems getting the ball past the line of scrimmage, as TSU recorded a season-best 14 tackles for loss, five of which were quarterback sacks.
JSU’s inability to move the ball on the ground forced the offense to resort to going through the air, but the Tigers eventually stopped that too. Junior safety Daniel Fitzpatrick recorded his team-leading fourth interception in the fourth quarter and redshirt sophomore Bernell Brooks iced the game with another pick a few plays later.
TSU has the third-most interception in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) with 12. The Tigers are sixth nationally in takeaways with 18.
While the defense was taking JSU’s ground game away, the Tiger offense was running the ball very efficiently. Tim Broughton gained a career-high 190 yards on 26 carries including one of 39 yards in the first quarter that jumpstarted a previously stagnate Tiger attack.
With his breakout performance in the biggest game of his collegiate career, Broughton moved into first place on the OVC rushing list with 739 yards. The senior is averaging an impressive 5.6 yards per carry and 105.6 yards per game.
Redshirt sophomore Telvin Hooks has also helped out in the rushing department, and with his 56 yards in Jacksonville is now fifth in the conference with 437 yards.
The winner of this Saturday’s contest against UT Martin (4-2, 2-1 OVC) could end up being the team that runs the ball the best.
Skyhawk ball carrier D.J. McNeal is the only other player in the nine-team league to average more yards per game than Broughton (112.5). Both McNeal and Broughton have 131 attempts on the season and McNeal has nearly matched Broughton’s output (5.2 yards per carry).
UT Martin also has Dylan Favre manning the quarterback position and the nephew of the NFL-great Brett has thrown for 792 yards and eight touchdowns this season.
Senior defensive back Camaren Harris had nine tackles, three pass breakups and a key second half interception in the Skyhawks’ 28-17 win over Tennessee Tech. Tony Bell added a team-best 10 stops to go along with a pair of sacks. Overall the UTM defense tied or set season-highs with nine tackles-for-loss, five sacks, three forced fumbles and two interceptions.
TSU is 15-7 all-time against UT Martin, but just 1-4 in the last five contests.
The game will be pivotal in the race for the Sgt. York Trophy, given to the team with the highest head-to-head winning percentage between TSU, UT Martin, Austin Peay and Tennessee Tech.
TSU won the Sgt. York in 2007, 2008, 2011 and again last season.