NASHVILLE, TENN - In-state rivals Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech
will meet for the 26th time on Saturday at 1 p.m. It marks the first game
between the two teams at Hale Stadium on TSU’s campus since the 1997 season
(TSU won that game 28-21); since 1999 TSU has been playing all home games at LP
Field but has returned to campus for three games this year.
TSU saw the end to its perfect season last Saturday, falling 31-28 in overtime at Jacksonville State. Despite the loss to Tigers are still 3-1 in OVC play and in a four-way tie atop the standings as four teams have one conference loss on the season.
The Tigers led 21-14 at halftime and after falling behind were able to tie the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter. Following that touchdown, a wild series of events saw the Tigers recover a JSU fumble, only to throw an interception on the next play of the game. Two plays later, however, JSU threw an interception giving the ball back to Tennessee State with 5:36 to play. The Tigers then went 45 yards in 14 plays, setting up a game-winning field goal attempt with four seconds to go. Jamin Godfrey made his first attempt but a false start penalty pushed it back five yards and his 47-yard attempt as time expired was wide. Godfrey then missed a 42-yard field goal, which came after TSU lost 13 yards on third down, in overtime, allowing JSU to set up its game winning field goal. The misses were just the second and third of the season for Godfrey in 12 attempts.
Junior running back Trabis Ward had 168 rushing yards and a touchdown and caught three passes for 41 yards to finish with 209 all-purpose yards for the game. Ward ranks sixth nationally in rushing (134.5 yards/game). Quarterback Michael German passed for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the loss, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked four times.
TSU slipped from 17th/18th to 21st in both FCS Top 25 polls this week.
Tennessee Tech suffered its fifth-straight loss last Saturday, falling 42-28 to No. 23 Eastern Kentucky. The Golden Eagles led 28-20 with 14:49 to go when Da’Rick Rogers caught his third touchdown pass of the game. But the team could not hold on as EKU scored 22 unanswered points in the final 9:22. Rogers, who ranks ninth nationally in receiving yards/game (102.29), caught six passes for 76 yards and the three scores on the night.
Quarterback Tre Lamb competed 18 passes for 283 yards
and four touchdown passes in the game; he currently ranks 10th nationally in
points responsible for (16.29 points/game). Tech did struggle running the ball
against a tough EKU defense, as the team managed just 15 net yards. Defensively
Austin Tallant led the Golden Eagles in tackles for the second-straight game,
netting 17 strops while freshman William Dillard added 16 stops. Punter Chad
Zinchini averaged 47.7 yards per punt on the night including a long of 46
Tennessee State has won six of the last eight in the series including a thrilling 42-40 game in Cookeville a season ago. In that game the No. 19 ranked Golden Eagles fell behind 42- 20 early in the third quarter but scored the final 24 points of the game to lose by just two points. Michael German threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another for TSU while Tre Lamb passed for 348 yards and two scores and OVC Offensive Player of the Year Tim Benford had 10 catches for 122 yards.
The game is a part of the annual Sgt. York Trophy series, competed for by the four OVC football-playing schools in the state of Tennessee. The teams shared the title a season ago but TSU won the tiebreaker and took home the actual trophy. TSU is 1-0 in Sgt. York games this season while this will be TTU’s first Sgt. York game of the year.