Tigers look ahead to Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic
Friday, September 11, 2009
Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State University will look to get on track from a gut-wrenching loss when they face Jackson State in the 20th Annual Southern Heritage Classic (SHC) in Memphis, Tenn. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. inside the Liberty Bowl. The match-up will be televised on Sports South.

TSU (0-1) leads the overall series 23-18-2 and the SHC series between the squads, 10-7. The Tigers have won the last six outings against JSU including a 41-18 win last year in the SHC (09/13/08). 

Last week, TSU dropped the season opener in a 24-7 loss to Alabama A&M at LP Field totaling 191 yards in offense. Both quarterbacks combined for 14-of-38 passing with the Tigers unsuccessfully running the ball tallying 13 rushing yards.

Starting quarterback Dominic Grooms went 4 of 8 passing for 42 yards before going down with an injury in the third quarter and will sit out this week. Reserve quarterback Jeremy Perry connected 10 of 30 passes for 136 yards throwing two interceptions and was sacked twice.

Coach Webster has not named a starter this week's match-up as of yet but quarterbacks Calvin McNairl and Michael Becker are in reserve. McNairl is nursing an injury suffered during camp and is day-to-day.

The Tigers' defense was responsible for their only score and are led by Eugene Clifford and Anthony Levine. Clifford, the 2008 SHC defensive MVP, returned a school record 78-yard fumble late in the first quarter to give TSU their only score. Clifford finished with seven tackles (5 solo, 2 assists) with Levine leading all defenders with eight tackles (6 solo, 2 assists) and was named the defensive MVP.

The Tigers gave up 409 yards of total offense to AAMU including 200 yards on the ground and three touchdown passes.

Jackson State (0-1) opened their season with a 45-7 loss to SEC opponent Mississippi State in Starkville, Miss. at Davis Wade Stadium. JSU registered 194 yards of total offense but held MSU to 14 points at the half.

Returning quarterback Trae Rutland completed 8 of 19 passes for 132 yards throwing two interceptions. Rutland also carried the ball 14 times for 46 yards. The Tigers scored late in the game on a 16-yard run by Terrence Davis. Davis collected two carries for 24 yards. Darius Bolela averaged 4.7 yards per carry with 28 yards from six attempts.

In the SWAC preseason poll, JSU was picked to win the Eastern Division with several players making the first and second preseason teams. Defensive lineman Sam Washington was named to the first team. Kicker Eric Perri, linebacker Marcus Jamison, and defensive backs Malcolm Palmer and Marcel Young received second-team honors.

Perri and Palmer were named to last year's All-SWAC Second Team. Against MSU, Palmer finished with a game high 11 tackles (6 solo, 5 assists), including one for a loss, a forced fumble and a pass break-up. Jamison followed with six tackles to help lead the JSU defense.

Jackson State surrendered 359 offensive yards with 5.4 yards per play.

Tiger fans can purchase classic tickets at the TSU ticket office located on the first level of the Gentry Center or log on to southernheritageclassic.com for details. For more information call (615) 963-5841 or (888) 894-2583.

Next, TSU will head to Baton Rouge, La. to battle with the Jaguars of Southern University on September 19th. Kick-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. (CDT).