Nashville, Tenn. - Tennessee State University watched a 28-7 halftime lead vanish, falling to Eastern Illinois, 31-28, in overtime during Homecoming/Senior Night in front of a crowd of 21, 596 at LP Field.
With the loss, TSU (3-6, -5 OVC) remains winless in conference play while nursing a four-game skid.
In overtime, EIU scored on the first possession with a 37-yard field goal from Cameron Berra. The Tigers looked to have an opportunity to seal the game on 3rd-and-9 when Dominic Grooms connected with Jeremy Pryor on a 23-yard reception on the Panthers one yard line.
However, during Pryor's one hand lunge for the goal line, the ball came loose with the fumble bouncing out of bounds in the end zone for a touchback giving EIU the win.
Grooms, Pryor and Terrance Wright recorded career highs to help the Tigers post 457 yards of total offense. Grooms passed for 15-of-29 for 270 yards and one touchdown. Pryor pulled in a game-high six catches for 121 yards and Terrence Wright rushed for 138 yards on 14 carries (9.6 yards/carry) and one touchdown.
TSU posted all their points in the first half with Calvin McNairl scoring two touchdowns with one under center on a 6-yard run to put the Tigers on the board first. McNairl scored again late in the second on a 20-yard reception from Grooms for his second touchdown catch of the season. Dante' Thomas also added a score on a 6-yard run late in the first quarter.
EIU (2-8, 2-6 OVC) wins their second straight after opening the season with eight losses. The Panthers totaled 467 yards behind Jimmy Garoppolo's 20-of-33 passing for 331 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
Garoppolo hit Cody Bruns in the second quarter on a 23-yard pass to put EIU on the board. In the second half, Garoppolo connected with Chris Wright on touchdown passes of 15, 65, and 81 yards.
Wright finished with five receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns. On the ground, Jake Walker picked up 70 yards on 14 carries (5.0 yards/carry). Defensively, EIU was led by Rashad Haynes and Perry Burge's registering seven tackles each.
The Tigers will return to action next week when they travel to UT Martin for OVC play. The game is scheduled for Nov. 13 in Martin, Tenn. with a 6 p.m. kick-off.