MEMPHIS, Tenn. – The Tigers opened both halves with a flurry as they secured a 35-25 win over Jackson State in the 26th Southern Heritage Classic. A crowd of 48,335 witnessed the fourth consecutive win for Tennessee State over JSU at the Liberty Bowl. It was the largest crowd to watch the classic since 2008. TSU improved to 2-0 on the season as JSU fell to 0-2.
Tennessee State won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball first. The decision payed off as O’Shay Ackerman-Carter teamed up with Patrick Smith on a 64-yard scoring play on the second play from scrimmage giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead just 53 second into the game.
On a second-and-three from the TSU 36, Ackerman-Carter faked a hand-off and dumped a pass over the middle to Smith who caught the ball at his own 48 and outraced the defense to the end zone. The duo teamed up for their second touchdown in as many weeks.
Jackson State responded by going on a 10 play, 75 yard drive, which resulted in a Robert Johnson 1-yard plunge into the end zone. JSU kicker Ryan Deising slipped while attempting the point after making the score 7-6 in favor of TSU.
On the second possession of the game, Ackerman-Carter found a hole in the Jackson State line and rushed for seven yards. The redshirt-quarterback would stay down and had to leave the game due to injury.
For the second consecutive year, junior Ronald Butler entered the game for an injured quarterback. In last year’s SHC, Butler appeared after Mike German went down in the second quarter.
On his first play, a third and 18, Butler hit Patrick Smith down the left seam for 50 yards to the JSU 22. The ball was moved to the seven after a personal foul setting up a touchdown run by Telvin Hooks on the next play giving the Tigers a 14-6 lead.
Ackerman-Carter returned after taking a series off and later drove the offense down the field for a score with seven seconds remaining before halftime. The Jacksonville, Fla. native found a leaping Joshawn Bowens from 10-yards out to make the score 21-9 at the break.
In the second half, Patrick Smith made his presence felt on special teams. After the defense stopped the JSU offense on the first series of the second half, Smith received a punt in Jackson State territory and returned it 28 yards to the Tigers 15.
TSU put the ball in the hands of Hooks who carried three straight times with the final being a two-yard scoring run. The Big Blue increased its lead to 28-9 with 12:25 remaining in the third quarter.
With the score 28-12, Ackerman-Carter connected on his third touchdown of the night as he hit Chris Sanders-McCollum. The junior wide out broke free from a tackle and scampered down the left sideline for a 64-yard touchdown and a 35-12 lead.
Patrick Smith finished the night with 155 all-purpose yards and was named the Southern Heritage Classic Most Valuable Player.
Ackerman-Carter completed 15 passes on 26 attempts for 250 yards and three touchdowns.
The TSU running game totaled 127 yards on 32 carries. Hooks led the charge with 68 yards on 14 attempts, averaging 4.9 yards per carry, and two scores. Tom Smith averaged 3.7 yards on 11 attempts for 45 yards.
The Tigers will begin Ohio Valley Conference play at Jacksonville State on Saturday, Sept. 19. The game will be broadcasted on ESPN3.
Tennessee State moves to 27-20 in the all-time series versus Jackson State ... TSU improves to 15-11 in the Southern Heritage Classic ... TSU has now won four in a row over Jackson State with JSU’s last win over the Tigers coming in 2011 ... Saturday’s game marked the 36th meeting between the two schools and 26th annual Southern Heritage Classic ... Joe Bowens caught a touchdown with seven seconds left in the first half… It was his first touchdown since Nov. 17, 2012 in the season finale at UT Martin ... The official attendance for the game was 48,335, which is the highest attendance for the Southern Heritage Classic since 2008 when 50,794 fans were in attendance ... TSU begins the season 2-0 for the second time in Head Coach Rod Reed’s six-year tenure … The Tigers began the 2012 season with a 7-0 record before finishing the season at 8-3 ... TSU won the coin toss and chose to receive the kickoff in the first half ... Kickoff was at 6:06 p.m. ... The temperature was 73 degrees and skies were clear at time of kickoff.
TSU Head Coach Rod Reed
“Our team showed a lot of grit. We got out to a fast start and we came into halftime and made some adjustments. We had a good third quarter, but in the fourth quarter, we got a little lackadaisical. We let them back in the football game, but I thought our kids showed a lot of character being able to close it out.”
-On his team’s performance
“We have a bunch of really good receivers. Isaiah Jeffries-Freeman, Chris Sanders-McCollum, Patrick Smith. There are some guys that aren’t playing that much right now that we feel really good about. O’Shay (Ackerman-Carter) does a great job of finding them, so it’s pretty much pick your poison. We knew Patrick had big-play ability, and what a stage for him to show up tonight. He showed his hometown crowd what kind of player that he really is. They knew about him. He led Whitehaven to a state championship a couple years ago and hopefully he can continue to make big plays for us.”
-On the play of Memphis native Patrick Smith
TSU Wide Receivers Coach Mashack
“We saw last week with their secondary and how they played that we would have some opportunities. We knew this week that this would be a week of big plays for us just because of the way they play coverage.”
-On the play of the wide receivers
“As a whole, I thought we did a great job. We started faster than we did last week. We were able to take advantage of some of those big plays early and we were able to keep it going. All in all, the hardest thing to do is win, so we’ll take it any way we can get it, and we have a big one next week with Jacksonville State.”
-On the offense as a whole
TSU Defensive End Ebenezer Ogundeko
“I feel like the D line played pretty decent tonight. Jackson State tried to use the two backs in the backfield to chip us off sometimes, but Latrelle Lee and Gabe Terry and the rest of the defensive line did really well.”
-On the play of the defensive line
TSU Wide Receiver Patrick Smith
“It was nice to come out here and play well against Jackson State. It’s my first season back after two years of not playing, and then I’m in front of my home crowd with my family in the stands. I have a lot of friends, a lot of teammates on the opposite side for Jackson State, so it felt good to play in this game and play like I did.”
-On playing in his hometown
“We started off great. I feel like we found a rhythm early on and were able to finish some drives. We just need to keep fighting.”
- On the offense
“He’s a senior. He keeps me calm in the huddle, and when all else fails, I find Big Joe and he gets it done.”
- On the play of senior tight end Joe Bowens