Benson's 29-yard FG Lifts Tigers to 37-34 Win
Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Tigers (6-1, 3-0) remain number one in the Ohio Valley Conference after holding off a late Austin Peay rally (0-7, 0-4). With an Eric Benson game winning 29-yard field goal with two seconds left, the Tigers edged the Governors, 37-34.
Benson was perfect on the night connecting on three-of-three pats and booting field goals from 26, 31 and 29 yards out. The game winner gives him eight out of nine field goals made on the season. The Tiger dramatic finish against the Governors is familiar. Last season, Benson’s field goal in overtime gave TSU the win in Clarksville.
In the first quarter, TSU and APSU traded blows scoring on their ensuing drives with neither team punting the ball. TSU initiated a full ground assault. The Tigers did not through a pass in the first quarter or punt the ball in the first half. APSU delivered the first punt of the game in the middle of the second quarter.
Preston Brown put the Tigers on the board first with a touchdown run from one yard out capping a nine-play 61-yard drive with 10:53 on the clock.
The Tigers answered back after an APSU score with a 23-yard touchdown run by Javarris Williams ending a four-play 66-yard drive (1:40). Javarris Williams rushed for 140 of his 195 yards (30 carries) in the first half while scoring two of his three touchdowns. Williams’ second score of the half gave the Tigers a 24-12 lead.
The touchdowns give Williams 11 on the season and 38 in his career total. Williams moves within three touchdowns to tie the TSU all-time career rushing touchdowns (41, Charles Anthony).
APSU failed on two point-after conversions and with Benson’s two first-half field goals, the Tigers led after the first half, 27-12.
The Governors opened the second half going 75 yards on nine plays for a score, closing the Tiger lead, 27-20. APSU mounted the comeback led by Theo Townsend outscoring the Tigers in the third quarter, 15-7. Townsend finished with 89 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Governors returned a Tiger interception 11 yards for a score and the point after tied the game, 34 34.
With 4:54 remaining and the Governors driving deep into TSU territory, the Tigers’ defense stopped APSU on a fourth and one.
Eugene Clifford, Sidney Tarver, Maurice Davis and Larry Williford led the defensive effort. Clifford led the Tigers with seven tackles (7 solo) while picking off his third interception of the season. Tarver finished with six tackles (5 solo) and Davis added six tackles (two for losses) with one sack. Williford’s tallied five solo tackles (one for a loss), one sack and one interception.
With time winding down, Antonio Heffner completed two first down passes on the final drive connecting with Brandon Belvin for 29 yards and Ronald Evans for 21 yards. Key carries by Williams put the Tigers in field goal range for Benson's game winner.
With 0:02 remaining, Austin Peay tried a desperation pass, but Eugene Clifford's interception and 18-yard return ended the game and preserved the win for the Tigers.
The Tigers spring back into action when they face OVC opponent Southeast Missouri State on October 25th in Cape Girardeau, Mo. kick-off is scheduled for 1 p.m.