MEMPHIS, TENN. - Tennessee State was victorious in the 23rd annual Southern Heritage Classic as they defeated Jackson State 38-12 in front of 42,257 at the Liberty Bowl Saturday night.
JSU (0-2) got on the scoreboard first with a 35-yard field goal from Ryan Deising mid-way through the first quarter.
After TSU's (2-0) first three drives amounted to only eight yards, they put together a 13 play, 94-yard drive that ended with a Trabis Ward one-yard touchdown run to give TSU a 7-3 edge early in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by a 32-yard pass from quarterback Michael German to fullback Vernon Frett. It was the junior's first career catch.
The 94-yard drive was the longest TSU drive since October 25th, 2008, when they had a 99-yard scoring drive vs. Southeast Missouri State.
Ward would find the end zone for the second time on the next TSU drive, this time punching it in from two yards out to extend the lead to 11. It would not be the last time that Ward would find the end zone on this night.
TSU would turn Jackson State over on the very next drive as redshirt freshman Jack Ndem recovered a fumble at the TSU 43-yard line.
After a TSU three-and-out, JSU would respond with another field goal from Deising, this time a 23 yarder to cut the TSU lead to 14-6.
TSU stopped any momentum that JSU thought they had by answering with a 47-yard Trabis Ward rushing touchdown, his third of the night, to make it 21-6 Tennessee State at the half. It took TSU only three plays and 39 seconds to drive the 72 yards into the end zone.
Ward finished with 22 carries for 114 yards and three touchdowns, which was enough to earn Southern Heritage Classic MVP honors. His previous career-high was two touchdowns, which happened on three different occasions. The most recent coming last season vs. Southeast Missouri State.
Ward also become only the sixth TSU player to have three or more rushing touchdowns in a game and the first since Javarris Williams had three vs. Austin Peay during the 2008 season.
In only his second career game, Hooks rushed for 99 yards on just 10 carries.
A Ronn Vinson punt block gave TSU a short field and they would take advantage in quick order. On the very next play, German found Devin Wilson for a 17-yard touchdown, his second receiving score of the season, to make it 31-6 in favor of TSU.
German finished 9-of-24 for 137 yards and one touchdown.
The defense capped off the scoring on the evening when sophomore Daniel Fitzpatrick scooped up a JSU fumble with 7:09 left in the 4th quarter and took it 70-yard to the end zone to make it 38-12 Tennessee State.
Tennessee State will play its first home game on campus since 1998 next Saturday as they host Austin Peay in the conference opener at 1 p.m
Notes: With a win next week, TSU will start the season 3-0 for only the second time since 2005. TSU started the 2008 season 4-0 ... For the first time since Oct. 21-28, 2006 (at
Jacksonville State/vs. Samford) TSU has held back-to-back opponents to 14
points or under ... Trabis Ward has rushed for over 110 yards in four of his last five games dating back to last season. In that time, he has average 120 yards rushing per game.
Tennessee State RB Trabis Ward post game interview, CLICK HERE.
Tennessee Stat QB Michael German post game interview, CLICK HERE.