NASHVILLE, Tenn - A one-yard quarterback sneak by Michael German with eight seconds left gave Tennessee State a 23-20 victory over No. 16 ranked Eastern Kentucky at Hale Stadium Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers found themselves down 20-10 early in the fourth quarter as EKU (4-2, 2-1) kicker Luke Pray hit a 30-yard field goal, his second of the game, with 13:49 left.
Tennessee State (6-0, 2-0 OVC) responded on its next possession as Trabis Ward found the end zone from three yards out to cap a 12 play, 72-yard touchdown drive with 8:49 remaining. EKU blocked the extra point as its lead shrunk to 20-16.
Ward finished with 113 yards on 24 carries and a touchdown. He is now fourth on the all-time TSU rushing list with 1,816 yards, passing Eugene Bowens and Dante Thomas
The Tigers' defense stepped up and turned Eastern Kentucky over on downs as the Colonels failed to convert a fourth and nine on the TSU 32. TSU had 68 yards to go with 2:32 left to keep their perfect season alive.
The TSU offense converted a pair of third downs to sustain the drive as well as a fourth and one play from the EKU three-yard line. German's number was called as he picked up two yards to give the Tigers the ball at the one with 12 seconds remaining and no timeouts to set up his game winning touchdown on the next play.
The first drive of the game for TSU stalled in Colonel territory, but Jamin Godfrey pinned EKU inside their own 10-yard line. The 16th ranked Colonels would put together a 13 play, 91-yard drive that took nearly seven minutes to go up 7-0 on a one-yard run by quarterback T.J. Pryor.
TSU took advantage of a fumbled punt by Justin Bell at the EKU 24-yard line. Freshman Andrew Dale recovered the ball at the 20 to give TSU great field position.
TSU got on the scoreboard with 7:15 left in the half when German found A.C. Leonard in the end zone for an 11-yard score to tie the game at seven.
German was 17-of-27 for 228 yards with a touchdown and an interception. He also rushed for 18 yards. Leonard led all receivers with five receptions.
Just like last week, TSU would go into the locker room after a Godfrey field goal, this one from 46 yards out as time expired to give the Tigers a 10-7 halftime edge.
Eastern Kentucky started the second half off just like they did the first, with a lengthy touchdown drive. Matt Denham ran in from four yards out to put EKU back up 14-10. Denham had 33 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown.
The Colonels had their third 70-plus yard scoring drive of the game as Pray hit a 21-yard field goal to put EKU up seven.
Defensivley, linebacker Nick Thrasher had a game-high 12 tackles, including his first sack of the season. Redshirt sophomore defensive back Harold Watson also had the first interception of his career on the final play of the game as EKU threw a hail mary that was caught by Watson at the TSU 30 yard line
The Tigers go on the road next week to take on Southeast Missouri State. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
GAME NOTES: Tennessee State has now won three of the last four meetings between the two teams. Two of those three victories have been by three points ...Ward's 31 yard reception in the first quarter is the second longest of his career. His career long catch of 49 yards came last season on Oct. 22 last season at Eastern Kentucky ... EKU started this years game on a 13 play, 91 yard touchdown drive that last 6:53. Last season vs. the Tigers, they started the game on a 14 play, 6 minute 30 second drive that resulted in a missed field goal. The 91-yard drive is also the longest vs. TSU since Nov. 20, 2010 vs. Murray State when the Racers went 95 yards before turning the ball over on downs ... WR Travis James moved into 9th on the all-time TSU receiving yards list passing Patrick Jenkins (1999-2002) ... Tennessee State and Bucknell are the only two FCS teams to have not given up more than 20 points in a game this season ... Eastern Kentucky scored just two touchdowns on five red zone possessions.
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