Nashville, Tenn. - In front of a crowd of 54, 202, the Tennessee State University Tigers snapped an eight-game drought to long-time rivals Florida A&M in the Atlanta Football Classic, 29-18.
It was the first time since 2001 the Tigers captured a win against the Rattlers in the AFC with fans, alumni, and students on hand at the end of the game to soak in the victory at the Georgia Dome.
TSU (2-2) racked up a season-high, 413 yards, 304 on the ground, averaging 6.7 per play. The Tigers jumped out to a 19-0 first-half lead behind Preston Brown, Jeremy Perry, Joseph Hills, and Jamin Godfrey and did not commit a turnover the entire game scoring 5-of-6 in the red-zone.
Brown rushed for a career high and Classic record, 233 yards, on 28 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per rush. He was named Classic MVP receiving his second player of the game award this season.
On the first drive, Brown busted through the Rattlers' defense on his first carry for a 71-yard touchdown run in the opening minutes. The score capped a two-play drive on Brown's yardage and ignited the Tigers' attack.
After holding FAMU to a three and out, TSU scored on the next possesion when Perry connected with Hills on a 15-yard strike. Perry finished throwing 8-of-16 for 109 yards and Hills caught a team-high, three receptions for 35 yards.
Special teams play fueled the games' tempo with Godfrey adding field goals from 33, 32, and 37 yards out going 3-of-4 on the day. Julian Mallory stepped in at punt return after Ryan Berry sustained an injury, delivering 111 yards from a team-record, five returns.
With a 22-6 lead in the fourth, Dante Thomas scored the Tigers' last points with a three-yard run. He helped maintain a strong rushing attack; finishing with 84 yards on 13 carries posting 6.5 yards per rush.
On defense, TSU recorded 11 sacks while holding FAMU (2-2) to 24 yards rushing behind Rico Council and Sidney Tarver. Council tallied seven tackles and a game-high three sacks with Tarver posting two sacks.
FAMU (2-2) jumped on the board late in the second from a two-yard run by Lavante Page. The Rattlers attempted a comeback charge in the fourth quarter scoring back-to-back. Page scored from another two-yard with the Rattlers adding a two-yard touchdown pass as time expired from Eddie Battle to Max Purcell.
Martin Ukpai led FAMU with 173 yards passing from 15-of-31 with Kevin Elliot leading all receivers with four catches for 51 yards. On defense, Alvis Graham led all defenders with 13 tackles adding one sack for FAMU.
Next week, TSU will finish their HBCU Classic series against North Carolina A&T in the Circle City Classic. Kick-off is set for 3 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Ind.