Thursday, September 5, 2002
NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State Tigers will open the home portion of their football schedule as they host the Prairie View A&M Panthers in the Fourth Annual John Merritt Classic. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. Saturday (Sept. 7) in The Coliseum. The Tigers will look to get back on the winning track. TSU dropped a tough 26-20 decision on the road at South Carolina State in the season opener. TSU was plagued by six turnovers in the game and South Carolina State was able to hold on a take the six-point victory. This week, the Tigers will be facing Prairie View for the first time on the football field since 1971. TSU will also be gunning to keep its unbeaten streak alive in the Merritt Classic as it faces a team outside the state of Alabama for the first time in the event. TSU defeated Alabama State the first two years and won over Alabama A&M 27-7 last season. “We are looking forward to the Merritt Classic and looking to have a much-improved performance this week,” said TSU head coach James Reese. “Prairie View gives you a lot of looks and will play very aggressively.” Like the Tigers, the Panthers also committed six turnovers in a 44-14 setback to rival Texas Southern. The miscues help break open a close game as turnovers led to 23 direct points. Sophomore Riley Walker is expected to get he start at quarterback. Redshirt freshman Bryson Rosser made the start in the season opener. The Tigers will look for more consistent offense this week against the Panthers. Highlights for the offense were a 60-yard scoring reception by Ron Jackson from Rosser and a 28-yard scoring reception on a screen pass by Patrick Jenkins. TSU’s Scott Cunningham had a pass interception in the season opener for the second straight year. Preseason All-Ohio Valley Conference defensive back Deon Giddens had an interception, forced fumble, and pass deflection. Prairie View is led by Larry Dorsey, a TSU graduate. He was an All-American for the Tigers in 1974 and ’75. Dorsey is in his third year as the Panthers’ head coach. The Tigers will be playing their lone home game in a stretch of seven games. TSU will not appear at home until its homecoming game in late October. Tickets for the game are on sale at the TSU ticket center located in the Gentry Center. Tickets will also be available at The Coliseum beginning at noon at the east side ticket window and also the north side ticket window will open at 3 p.m. ###