Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Tigers will try to harness the energy from the Big Blue pride during Homecoming 2009 to help snap a two-game skid. TSU will host conference opponent UT Martin, Saturday, Nov. 7, at LP Field.
TSU owns the series record versus UT Martin, 13-5, including a dramatic overtime 30-27 win last year during the Skyhawks' homecoming at H.K. Grantham Field. The Tigers post an impressive 61-11-5 homecoming record and is 5-0 versus the Skyhawks during the festive weekend.
The match-up will take place during the TSU's Homecoming and Senior Day. The Tigers will play their last home game of the year, in which they have posted a 1-2 record this season.
The Tigers (3-5, 2-2) have dropped two OVC games in a row and have moved into the middle of the pack in the championship race. In their last outing, TSU surrendered the York Trophy to Tennessee Tech after losing to the award's season front runners, 20-13. It is the first time the award has changed hands since it's inaugural season in 2007.
TSU finished with 280 yards of offense and 19 first downs. The offense struggled to find their rhythm, committing 12 penalties for 65 yards. Joseph Hills' six catches for 80 yards and Calvin McNairl's touchdown run was a bright spot in the offensive numbers. On defense, TSU held TTU to 265 yards of offense, 77 yards on the ground, nine first downs, and put the Tigers' first score on the board with an interception return by Sidney Tarver. Defensive lineman Rodney Fritz finished with two sacks and three tackles. Anthony Levine collected six tackles with Eugene Clifford pulling in one-of-two TSU interceptions.
The Big Blue offense is averaging 14 points a game and 267 yards of total offense. The offensive production is led by quarterback Calvin McNairl who leads the Tigers in rushing yards, passing yards, scoring and all-purpose yardage. McNailr averages 139 yards of total offense/game with 72 yards on the ground and 66 yards through the air. McNairl has posted five rushing touchdowns, averaging 5.7 yards/carry, and has thrown three touchdowns on the season competing 46 percent of his passes (44-95-6).
The offensive ine, which has seen multiple starting combinations, still leads the league in sacks allowed, giving up seven on the year.
Hills, a newcomer, is starting to become comfortable in the offense, leading the team in receptions with 28 for 13 yards per catch.
On defense, the Tigers have scored three touchdowns as a result of turnovers and is number one in the OVC when stopping the run. TSU is holding opponents to a little over 100 yards/game and is second in red zone defense, while surrendering 18.2 points per contest.
TSU is led defensively by defensive lineman Kellen Woodard and Rodney Fritz with five sacks apiece. Linebackers John Jones, Jr. and Rico Council have combined for 87 tackles with Jones topping the statistic with 44 on the year. Eugene Clifford and Anthony Levine have both picked off two passes each while Clifford is the Tigers third leading tackler with 41.
The Skyhawks (3-5, 2-3) snapped a three-game losing streak after defeating Murray State, 38-24, last week. UTM is led by OVC preseason selections, quarterback Cade Thompson, running back Brandyn Young, wide receiver Mike Hicks and linebacker Josh Bey. Skyhawk newcomer Jason McNair has two OVC Newcomer of the Week awards for his efforts this season.
In their last outing, Thompson completed 13-of-20 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns and he rushed for another. The Skyhawks lead the OVC in first downs, third down conversions and time of possession.
Thompson is second in the OVC in passing, averaging almost 240 yards per game and has thrown for 1,913 yards, completing 163-of-256 passes (64 percent), 12 TDs, with 11 interceptions. Under Thompson, UTM is averaging 26.4 points per game.
Young is averaging only 64 yards per/game, but, Miguel Barnes is second in the conference in rushing managing 5.7 yards/carry and 83 yards/game. Hicks' 30 receptions is a team best, hauling in four/game and Bey ieads the defense with 75 tackles (9.4 per/game) for a second place ranking in the conference while tallying 6.5 sacks this season.
UTM's defense is giving up close to 29 points per game and has allowed 92 percent of their opponents' scoring in the red zone.
The Tigers will continue their season on the road making their first stop in Clarksville, Tenn. to face rival Austin Peay State. The game is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 4 p.m. at Governors Stadium.