CHARLESTON, Ill. – The Tennessee State football team dropped its fourth consecutive game, 28-3, at Eastern Illinois on Saturday. The Panthers scored three of their touchdowns in the second half.
TSU (4-5, 1-4 OVC) was out gained by EIU (3-5, 3-1 OVC) 370 to 287 and turned the ball over three times.
Darion Hall set a new career high with 10 carries for 67 yards, and helped TSU to 108 rushing yards – its highest total in three weeks.
Mike West led the Tiger defense with 10 tackles, but the unit failed to record a takeaway for the second straight week.
The Tigers’ defense kept the Panthers off of the scoreboard during the first quarter, but the TSU offense was unable to put any points, either, totaling 26 yards and one first down.
EIU finally broke the tie when Jalen Whitlow hit Adam Drake with a 28-yard strike for a touchdown. Drake was able to haul in the pass with De’Ante Saunders in perfect coverage. The big play put the Panthers up, 7-0, at the 13:33 mark.
The TSU offense put its first solid drive together in the waning minutes of the first half. Mike German completed big passes to Tom Smith (17 yards) and Isaiah Freeman (12 yards), marching the Tigers down to the one-yard line. On fourth and goal from the EIU-1, TSU’s fullback Stephen Hopkins was turned away and the Tigers still trailed by seven.
Tennessee State had one more chance to score before heading to the locker room, but Lane Clark’s 44-yard field goal attempt missed wide-right.
Ronald Butler came in at quarterback for TSU to start the second half and led the Tigers down to the EIU 25-yard line. Clark made up for his miss earlier, drilling a 42-yard field goal down the middle to cut the score to 7-3 with 11:40 on the clock in the third quarter.
Butler had the TSU moving in the right direction later in the period, but Anthony Goodman picked him off on a pass towards the sideline and raced 46 yards into the end zone. The score put the Panthers up, 14-3.
The Panthers added another touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Whitlow wiggled loose and outran TSU defenders 67 yards.
TSU drove the ball all the way down to the four-yard line, but in a microcosm of the game, had a holding penalty and then a fumbled a snap to give the ball back to the Panthers.
EIU added another touchdown on a Shepard Little 50-yard touchdown with four minutes to go, and the Panthers walked away with a, 28-3, win.
TSU will try to get back in the win column when the team hosts Eastern Kentucky on Nov. 1 at 2 p.m. at LP Field. The contest will mark the final home game for the Big Blue Seniors.
NOTES: TSU was held without a point during the first half for the first time all season. Last time that happened was Dec. 7, 2013 at EIU… Tiger kickers are now 8-of-18 on field goal attempts this season… TSU has not allowed an opposing receiver to gain over 100 yards was Oct. 26, 2013 when EIU had three (Erik Lora, Keiondre Gober and Jeff LePak)…Darion Hall carried the ball for the first time since Sept. 27 against Florida A&M…With Butler’s interception in the third quarter, TSU has now thrown a pick-six in back-to-back contests… TSU failed to score a touchdown for the first time since Nov. 2, 2013 at EKU… TSU is under .500 for the first time since the 2013 opener against Bethune-Cookman... The four-game losing streak is the longest since 2011…