Tennessee State Game Notes | Florida A&M Game Notes
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. – The Tennessee State football will step out of conference play for the final time this season as they take on Florida A&M. The old rivals will battle in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m. in Bragg Memorial Stadium. The Tigers come in with a 2-1 record, while the Rattlers are looking for their first at 0-3.
The game can be heard on WVOL 1470 AM. Greg Pogue will bring the play-by-play with analysis from Albert Dawson and sideline reporting with Gary Dawson. Pregame will begin at 4:30 p.m. CT.
This marks the 54th meeting between the two teams with TSU leading the series 28-25. The first contest went in favor of the Tigers, 19-7, in 1944. TSU had early success over the years before FAMU would win 19 of 22 through 2009. Starting in 2010, the Tigers have won four straight games, including a 27-7 win in 2014.
Last year, with 29,225 in attendance for homecoming, the Big Blue jumped out to a 20-0 halftime lead. The Tigers were paced by the defense as they scored two touchdowns. Terrell Bonds returned a 43-yard interception for a pick-six in the second quarter to gain a 17-0 lead. Defensive tackle Samquan Evans closed out the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 12-yard fumble recovery.
On the game, the defense recorded seven sacks, 12 tackles for loss, two interceptions and a fumble recovery. Gabe Terry set a career high with three sacks, which he later matched against Murray State in the final game of 2014.
Ronald Butler, a native of Tallahassee, completed 12 passes on 27 attempts for 151 yards, including a 34-yard toss to Dantwaun O'Neal.
Last time out, the Tigers fell to top ranked Jacksonville State 48-13. The Tigers were held scoreless until their first play from scrimmage in the second half. Ronald Butler found Patrick Smith open down the right side for an 84-yard touchdown pass. The play is the sixth longest play in TSU history, just behind an 85-yard scoring pass play from Leon Murray to Corey Sullivan versus Florida A&M in 1998.
Patrick Smith leads the team in receptions with 11 for 255 yards and has scored four touchdowns in three games. Isaiah Jeffries-Freeman is second on the team with 10 catches for 146 yards, while Joshawn Bowens follows with nine-for-84 yards.
Defensive back Javon Brandon and linebacker Chris Collins share the lead in tackles with 21. Brandon is credited with 14 solo tackles, one for loss, and has forced and recovered a fumble. Collins has totaled 11 solos and leads the defense with three tackles for loss. Collins also has one sack on the season.
Cornerback Ezra Robinson pulled down the first interception of the season for the Tigers at Jacksonville State.
The Rattlers are led by first year Head Coach Alex Wood and will host the Tigers for its first home game of the season. FAMU has dropped road contests at South Florida, Miami and South Carolina State to begin the year. At the quarterback position, Carson Royal and Kenneth Coleman have each attempted over 40 passes this season. Royal is 29-of-65 for 320 yards and three interceptions, similar to Coleman who is 20-of-43 for 177 yards and three picks.
On the ground, Devin Bowers is averaging 14.4 yards per carry, gaining 144 yards on 10 carries, while Gerald Hearns leads the team with 31 rush attempts for 50 yards.
Akil Blount and Kashawn Butler are tops on the Rattlers defense with 23 tackles. Blount has one of the two interceptions FAMU has recorded on the season to go along with Butler who has forced a fumble and has recovered three.
Entering the game, TSU holds a 393-141-19 record against other HBCUs, good for a .741 winning percentage. Since taking over in 2010, Rod Reed holds a 16-4 against HBCUs for a winning percentage of .800 with the highest amount coming against Florida A&M (28), Southern (27) and Jackson State (27).
So far in 2015, no FCS team has had more in attendance than TSU. Through the first three games the Tigers have played in front of 94,253 fans, averaging 31,418 per game. The average is the largest of any FCS team who has not played against an FBS opponent. The crowd of 48,385 at the Southern Heritage Classic against Jackson State is the largest between two FCS teams in 2015.