Nashville, Tenn. - The Tennessee State University Tigers dropped their third straight in front of a Homecoming crowd of 22, 092 at LP Field on Senior Day, suffering a 28-7 loss to OVC opponent UT Martin.
In their last home game of the season, TSU (3-6, 2-3) finished with 269 yards of offense after a rough first half with the Skyhawks tallying 301 yards. The Tigers were victims to an early deficit, 14-0, with only 49 yards of offense and three first downs in the first half.
TSU showed signs of life with 1:30 remaining in the second quarter, driving 31 yards to the UT Martin two yard line. With fourth and goal and a chance to cut the Skyhawks' lead before the break, quarterback Dominic Grooms was picked off by Markei Guy to end the half. Grooms, in his second straight start, threw 9-of-20 for 73 yards and two interceptions.
UTM (4-5, 3-3) bounced out to their early lead in the first quarter when Brandyn Young capped an 11-play, 70-yard drive, with a four-yard touchdown run. With 7:19 remaining in the second quarter, Cade Thompson rushed in from 1-yard out to end an 11-play, 51 yard drive. Thompson also completed 11-of-22 passes for 115 yards on the night.
Young becomes the first running back to rush over 100 yards on the Tigers' defense this season. He finished with 129 yards on 32 carries (4.0 yards/carry) with two scores. He lunged in for another score after a TSU turnover deep in Skyhawk territory. With 5:19 left in the fourth he capped the drive on a 1-yard touchdown run.
UTM's Josh Bey managed seven solo tackles with Markei Guy finishing with a game-high two interceptions.
Trailing and facing a shut out with less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Tigers shadowed a futile first-half offensive performance when quarterback Calvin McNairl found senior Julian Sample for a 73 yard touchdown pass. The score chipped away at the Skyhawks' lead, 21-7.
On Senior Day, Sample posted a career performance, leading all receivers with four receptions for 100 yards. Sample, who played quarterback in 2006 before moving to wide receiver, posted his first career reception and receiving touchdown. In 2006, Sample played quarterback in four games totaling 19 carries for 74 yards and two scores.
McNairl entered the game in the second half behind center finishing 8-of-13 for 134 yards and one interception. Preston Brown rushed for 43 yards on nine carries for a 4.8 yards/rush average and notched the longest run of the night with 29 yards.
UTM answered late in the game after the Tigers turned the ball over on downs. Jason McNair put the game out of reach on an 11-yard run with less than two minutes remaining for the final score, 28-7.
The Tigers will finish the 2009 campaign on the road making a stop in Clarksville, Tenn. to face Austin Peay State. Kick-off is scheduled for Nov. 14 at 4 p.m.