MEMPHIS, Tenn. – A fast start propelled the Tennessee State football team to a, 35-7, victory over Jackson State in the 25th annual Southern Heritage Classic in front of 46,914 spectators.
The TSU offense played its finest football of the young season in the first half, totaling all of its 35 points.
Tom Smith, who was named the game’s Offensive MVP, anchored an offense that racked up 189 yards in the first 30 minutes. The junior transfer totaled 48 yards on only seven carries and scored twice - once to start the game from two-yards out and had the final score of the half from 13 yards away.
Sophomore quarterback Ronald Butler took over for Mike German with 13 minutes left in the second quarter and he quickly found Dantwaun O’Neal on crossing pattern for a 13-yard touchdown to give Tennessee State a 28-0 lead.
The TSU defense was strong as well during the first two periods, only allowing 21 yards of total offense, 0.7 yards per play and one first down.
Senior cornerback De’Ante Saunders had two interceptions in the first half and ran the first one back 45 yards for a touchdown when TSU was up by just two scores.
Tennessee State was content to sit on its lead in the second half and only managed 135 yards and did not score again.
Jackson State, meanwhile, finally found the end zone once with 2:44 left in the third quarter with a four-yard touchdown run.
The TSU defense held JSU to minus-one yard rushing, a one-for-16 line on third down tries and recorded seven sacks.
NOTES: Butler’s 45-yard pass to Chris Sanders-McCollum in the third quarter was the longest pass of the season for TSU… TSU’s 21-point first quarter tied for the largest output this season with the second period against Edward Waters… German was injured on TSU’s first possession of the second quarter following a roughing the passer penalty on JSU… Butler’s score in the second period was his first since Nov. 30 of last season at Butler… TSU’s 35 first half points were the most against an FCS opponent since the Tigers put up 41 against Southeast Missouri in 2011… Butler completed his first four passes of the contest for 33 yards and a touchdown… Sanders-McCollum broke his career record for receiving yards that he set last week with 102… Kicker Cameron Carter was 0-for-1 on field goal attempts, but 5-of-5 on extra points… Jackson State’s No. 93 Cornelius Henderson was ejected with 7:57 left in the game due to a flagrant foul… TSU committed 10 penalties for 112 yards…