Tallahassee, Fla. – A suffocating defensive attack allowed the Tennessee State football team to pick up its first win of the season with a 27-7 victory at Florida A&M.
The TSU defense held FAMU to just 156 yards of total offense, 22 rushing yards on 24 carries, forced two turnovers-with one being returned for a touchdown- and the Rattlers were 2-of-12 on third down conversions.
The Rattlers got the ball to start the game and picked up a quick first down. Two plays later, a false start penalty moved FAMU back and eventually set up a third down. FAMU quarterback Damien Fleming changed the play at the line and fired a short out pass to the wide side of the field. Safety David Van Dyke jumped the route, picked the ball off and brought it brought it back 46 yards for a TSU touchdown.
Van Dyke’s interception was his second in as many games and the first touchdown scored by the Tigers in 2013. It was also the first TSU defensive touchdown since Sept. 8 of 2012 when Daniel Fitzpatrick scooped up a fumble and scored against Jackson State.
After a three-and-out on FAMU’s next possession, Tennessee State went to work on offense and executed an eight play, 65-yard drive that featured a perfectly timed screen pass to Hooks that went for 28 yards. Broughton, TSU’s other running back, finished off the effort with a 10-yard touchdown.
The score put TSU up 14-0 with just under seven minutes to go in the first quarter and Tennessee State would maintain its two score lead until Fleming found Lenworth Lennon wide-open in the end zone on a second and goal from the TSU 36-yard line. The FAMU touchdown brought the Rattlers within seven with 14 minutes left to go before halftime.
On the ensuing kickoff, redshirt junior Martine Stevenson received the ball and raced right up the middle of the field. 95 yards later, Stevenson was standing in the end zone with TSU’s first kickoff return for a touchdown since Weldon Garlington’s 100-yard return on Oct. 1, 2011 versus Austin Peay.
The TSU defense forced another FAMU three-and-out on the Rattlers’ next drive, giving the Tigers the ball at their own 15-yard line. Gashing runs by Broughton, Hooks and quarterback Ronald Butler eventually gave TSU a chance to score a field goal from 42 yards out. Jamin Godfrey lined up the kick, the snap and hold were perfect, but the kick was blocked.
FAMU was unable to capitalize off of the blocked kick but the Tigers’ offense went dormant as well, bringing the first half to a close with TSU in control, 21-7.
The Big Blue offense woke up to begin the third quarter and marched right down the field on a 13 play, 76-yard drive. Again, the TSU rushing attack could not be stopped and Hooks found the end zone from 14 yards out at the eight-minute mark. The sophomore’s score gave the Tigers a commanding 27-7 lead, as Godfrey’s PAT was blocked.
Hooks’s score proved to be the last of the afternoon as the Tigers continued to pound the ball on the ground to kill the clock and the TSU defense proved unrelenting.
Butler finished the day 14-of-21 for 131 yards. The freshman did have one interception when a fourth-quarter pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage.
TSU will look for win number two win next Saturday when the team travels to Memphis for a date with Jackson State in the Southern Heritage Classic.