Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Tigers' losing streak extended to four with a 24-21 OVC loss at Austin Peay State on Senior Day at Governors Stadium.
The Tigers (3-7, 2-4) give up their first loss to APSU since the Governors rejoined the conference in 2007. The last time TSU fell to APSU was back in 1995, 28-6. In the teams' last three meetings, a field goal or less separated the final score.
Offensively, the Tigers finished with a season high 293 yards but could not convert on third downs moving the chains one out of ten attempts. On defense, TSU surrendered 301 total yards including a season high, 201 rushing yards.
John Jones, Jr. tallied 10 tackles and Eugene Clifford followed with nine to lead TSU's defenders. Joseph Hills pulled in a game high six receptions for 54 yards and Donte Thomas rushed six times for 39 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry.
Despite the loss, several Tigers tallied career marks. Quarterback Calvin McNairl dished out a career performance throwing 17-of-23 for 189 yards and three touchdowns. McNairl also rushed for 42 yards on 13 carries (3.2 yard/carry). Wide receivers Travis James, Marquez Wilkens and fullback Ronald Bright posted their first touchdown receptions of their TSU careers.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 14-0 lead scoring on their opening drive for a season first. McNairl connected with James from nine yards out to cap an eight play, 76-yard drive. On TSU's next possession, McNairl found Wilkens in the front of the end zone for another score. Wilkens' 22-yard touchdown reception ended a five-play, 61-yard drive.
APSU (4-6, 3-4) answered early in the second quarter when fullback Jontamion Forrest rushed in from three yards out for a touchdown. The Governors' score cut the TSU lead in half at the break, 14-7.
In the third, McNairl found Bright for a seven-yard touchdown pass to give TSU a 21-7 cushion. On the Governors' next drive, Terrence Holt scored on a 22-yard run, sparking 17 unanswered points for APSU in the third quarter. Holt finished with 222 all-purpose yards including 77 rushing yards (5.1 yards/carry), 102 return yards and 11 receiving yards on two receptions.
After an APSU 43-yard field goal, Holt returned a punt 71 yards for his second score of the night and the Governors' lead, 24-21. The Governors' offense was also powered by Ryan White's 27 carries for 114 yards on the ground. Defensively for APSU, Amius Smith finished with a game high of 12 tackles.
The Tigers will finish the season next week in Charleston, Ill. against the OVC's number one team in the standings, Eastern Illinois. The game is scheduled for Thursday (11/19) and will be televised on ESPNU with kick-off slated for 5:30 p.m.