Tigers Upset Eastern Kentucky, 20-17
Tigers Upset Of Eastern Kentucky Preserved By Bather Deflection
The Tennessee State Tigers rolled into the hostile environment of Eastern Kentucky’s Roy Kidd Stadium facing a formidable task. Playing the #16 ranked team in the FCS, on a field where TSU has not won a game since 1998. Undaunted, the Tigers tamed the high-flying Colonels, 20-17, fighting from the first to the last.
The Tigers’ defense began by holding Eastern Kentucky in check during the first half, spotting TSU to a 6-0 lead in the first quarter (9:31) after a Eugene Clifford 66 yard interception return. The PAT kick, however, was blocked. EKU managed a 22 yard FG early in the second quarter (10:16), but managed just 110 yards in Total Offense (36 rush, 74 pass) by the end of the first half.
Mid-way through the third quarter EKU drove 78 yards in 7 plays to score a TD and capture the lead 10-6, but the Tigers responded with a 7-play drive of their own to move 65 yards and recapture the lead, 13-10, on junior running back Preston Brown’s first TD of the night with :35 remaining in the period.
The Colonels caught fire late in the final stanza, moving 80 yards on six plays to score a TD and move ahead 17-13 with 5:48 remaining in the game. Not to be denied, TSU mustered a 10-play 69 yard drive keyed by quarterback Calvin McNairl’s 29 yard completion to senior wide receiver Marqez Wilkens’ 29 yard pass on third and ten to the EKU 19-yard line with under 2:00 minutes to play. The Tigers fed the Colonels a steady diet Preston Brown, who ripped off runs of 5, 7, 1, 1. and 2 yards setting up the Tigers with 4th and Goal from the 2-yard line. Brown powered the football into the end zone for a TD with 1:34 remaining in the game and a 20-17 lead when freshman kicker Robert Vipond booted the PAT.
The game was not over, however, as EKU rattled off 9 plays for 27 yards, moving from their 37 yard line and pushed to the TSU 36 yard line. On fourth and eleven, freshman defensive back Justin Bather batted down the EKU pass at the 8 yard line to give TSU the ball on downs and win the game.
With the win, the Tigers raise their overall record to 3-3 on the season, but more importantly take sole possession of the Ohio Valley Conference lead with a perfect 2-0 mark in conference play. EKU falls to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
Offensively, Preston Brown led all rushers gaining 74 yards on 19 carries and 2 rushing TDs. Calvin McNairl passed for 124 yards on 9-for-16 with no interceptions. Wide receiver, Joseph Hills led all receivers gaining 79 yards on 4 catches.
Defensively, junior defensive lineman Malcolm Crawford led TSU in tackles recording five (3 solo), followed four other Tigers, John Jones, Rico Council, Anthony Levine and Sidney Tarver with four. Eugene Clifford snatched 1 interception (66-yd TD) and Anthony Levine snared one pick (19 yards). Rico Council, Kellen Woodard and Deonte Kilgore were credited for 1 sack each.
The Tigers will return home to play at LP Field on Saturday, October 17th against the Racers of Murray State in the Bikers Classic. Kickoff is set for 6:00p.