Thursday, October 9, 2003
NASHVILLE --- The Ohio Valley Conference's top respective defensive and offensive units will square off a against each other when the Tennessee State Tigers play the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles Saturday. Kickoff is 1 p.m. from Tech's Tucker Stadium in Cookeville. The Tigers, featuring a much-improved defense, find themselves ranked first in the OVC in total defense, allowing 291 yards a game and also in scoring defense, giving up just 17.0 points a game. Tech is ranked first in total offense, reeling off 433.0 an outing through its first five games. The Golden Eagles hit a stumbling block last Saturday when they were shocked Tennessee-Martin by a 30-23 score in overtime. Tiger defensive end Paul Thomas and linebacker Wesley Holmes are each ranked in the OVC in tackles for loss. Thomas is fifth while Holmes is seventh. While the Tiger defense has moved to the top, TSU's offense is also clicking. The Tigers are the OVC's top-ranked scoring team, averaging 30.6 points a game. TSU is third in total offense, averaging 364.8 yards a game. Another interesting feature of the game will be the OVC's top three ground gainers. TSU's Charles Anthony has gone over the century mark in all five Tiger games and is averaging 142.2 yards a game. He has 711 yards and is also the OVC's leading scorer with 11 TD's. The Tech running back tandem of Jason Ballard and Derek White trail Anthony in the rushing race. Ballard has gained 470 yards while White has 453. The pair have combined for 11 rushing TD's. The TSU and Tech series has been one of streaks. The Tigers won the first six games, Tech the next five, TSU the next three, and Tech is currently riding a three-game winning streak in the series. The Tigers hold a slim 9-8 edge heading into the 18th meeting between the two schools.