MONTGOMERY, Ala. – A furious fourth-quarter rally came up one play short, and Tennessee State dropped its first game of the season, 27-21, at Alabama State.
The Tigers scored 13 points in the fourth stanza and had 207 of their 432 yards in the final frame.
The TSU defense only surrendered 49 yards on 14 plays in the last 30 minutes, but gave up 444 in the game.
Quarterback Mike German finished 26-of-61 for 340 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.
German’s 61 attempts shattered the old school record of 55 attempts in a game set by Brian Ransom in 1981.
Daniel Fitzpatrick and Nick Thrasher led the defense with 11 tackles apiece.
The Tennessee State offense was completely stagnant for the game’s first 13 minutes and did not even have a first down. Luckily for the Tigers, the defense bailed out the unit by scoring the game’s first points via a safety.
Anthony Bass recorded his second sack in as many plays, and his hit caused ASU quarterback Daniel Duhart to fumble. Both sides tried to pick up the ball, but it squirted into the end zone and then out for two points for the visitors.
After the score, lightning in the area stopped play for nearly an hour. The TSU offense looked as though it found its stride after the delay, as German completed three straight passes for 37 yards. However, Cameron Carter’s 38-yard field goal try went wide left and the first quarter ended with TSU up, 2-0.
German was sharp to start Big Blue’s next series, connecting on five straight routes for 55 yards. Again, the TSU drive sputtered on the ASU side of the field, setting up another Carter field goal attempt. Carter’s try was blocked and ran back 85 yards for an Alabama State touchdown, giving the Hornets a 7-2 advantage with 7:36 to go before halftime.
Following a German interception, ASU got the ball in the waning seconds of the half and a 44-yard scamper by Malcolm Cyrus gave the Hornets a shot at a field goal. The chance was well short, but TSU was flagged for too many men on the field. ASU took advantage of the un-timed down and nailed the 32-yarder to make the score 10-2 at the break.
The second half started with another lightning delay, and then ASU’s Duhart flashed his arm, completing a 70-yard bomb to Cyrus on the wheel route for a touchdown. With only two minutes gone in the third, the Hornets upped their lead to 17-2.
German threw his second interception of the game on TSU’s next series and Duhart made TSU pay by completing a pair of passes for 33 yards and then running into the end zone from 30 yards out on a read-option. With the score, ASU led by 22 at the 10:32 mark.
The Tennessee State offense finally found the end zone seven minutes later when German hit Ryan Mitchell on a crossing route for the six-yard score. The toss capped off a 13-play, 72 yard drive.
ASU countered with a field goal and then German was intercepted for the third time on TSU’s next series.
German cut into the lead with a little over 10 minutes to play in the game, this time with his legs. His one-yard sneak put TSU down by just two scores, 27-14.
ASU was content to run down the clock on its next possession, and TSU took over with just over six minutes left. Dantwaun O’Neal converted a 4th-and-15 later in the drive and then German found Garlington with an 18-yard strike with 4:30 left. Garlington raced towards the end zone but fumbled at the goal line. Mitchell was the right place and recovered Garlington’s fumble to make the score 27-21 in favor of the home team.
The TSU defense forced a three-and-out and German found Tom Smith on a delayed route that went for 26 yards to the ASU 32-yard line. The Tigers later converted another first down by running the ball, but that was the last they could manage. A holding call set up a 4th-and-20 and German’s pass deflected off of O’Neal and hit the turf.
The Tennessee State team will look to get back into the win column next Saturday when the squad travels to Memphis for the Southern Heritage Classic against Jackson State.
Notes: De’Ante Saunders picked off his first pass of the year in the opening quarter, his fifth as a Tiger… TSU mustered just 45 yards of total offense in the first quarter and was 0-for-5 on third downs… Bass’s safety was the first for TSU since he recorded one against UT Martin last season… Sophomore Chris Sanders-McCollum established a new career high in receptions with five and yards with 65… Carter’s blocked field goal was the first for TSU since Jamin Godfrey’s was turned away at UT Martin last season… ASU’s Malcolm Cyrus had over 100 yards rushing in the first half. TSU only allowed two rushers to eclipse the century mark in 2013… Outside linebacker Vann Williams set a new TSU career-best with seven tackles… With his third pick of the game in the third quarter, German has now thrown more picks this season (5) than TSU had all of last season… Weldon Garlington set a new career high in receptions (8) and yards (134)… German is now fifth all-time in career passing yards (6,229), second in completions (471) and third in attempts (829)… TSU missed two field goals and two extra points…