Tennessee State Game Notes | Arkansas-Pine Bluff Game Notes
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The John Merritt Classic
Game 1: Arkansas-Pine Bluff (0-0) vs, Tennessee State (0-0)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 3, 2016
Location: Nissan Stadium
Kickoff: 6:00 p.m.
Video: OVC Digital Network
Audio: 102.1 FM The Light
The Game: Tennessee State plays host to Arkansas-Pine Bluff in the 18th annual John Merritt Classic. This marks the first appearance for UAPB in the JMC. The Tigers claimed a 24-14 victory over Alabama State last year, securing their sixth win in the last eight JMC contests. The Tigers are 12-5 all-time in the JMC.
Last Meeting: TSU has won the only contest they have played since 1947 against the Golden Lions, a 40-13 victory during Homecoming on Sept. 29, 2012, at Nissan Stadium. The Tigers trailed Arkansas-Pine Bluff, 10-0 after the first quarter, but then outscored the UAPB 40-3 to pull away. Michael German threw for 262 yards and two touchdowns, while Telvin Hooks rushed for 108 yards and two touchdowns to lead the offense for TSU. The Tigers defeated, then, Arkansas AM&N in 1944 and 1947.
Head Coach: Rod Reed enters his seventh season at the helm of the Tigers. During his time at TSU, he has compiled a 36-34 record, including a 28-19 mark since 2012. Reed is 1-0 versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
Tennessee State: The Tigers finished 4-6 a year ago and 1-6 in Ohio Valley Conference play. TSU returns 65 letter-winners including six starters on offense and eight on defense. Junior defensive lineman Ebenezer "Ebo" Ogundeko returns for his second season and was named Preseason All-OVC. Ogundeko finished 2015 with 58 tackles, 10.5 tackles-for-loss and 5.0 sacks earning the OVC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year by the media. Junior linebacker Chris Collins led the team with 79 tackles in 2012. Offensively, wide receiver Patrick Smith returns after catching 54 passes for 996 yards and 10 touchdowns in his first season Smith ranked seventh nationally in receiving yards/game (99.6) and 13th in receiving touchdowns. Redshirt-Sophomore O’Shay Ackerman-Carter passed for 1,279 yards and 11 touchdowns in seven games. The offensive line returns four starters including preseason All-American Jessamen Dunker.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff: UAPB finished 2-9 last season, 1-8 in the SWAC and enters its eighth season under head coach Monte Wilson. The veteran coach led the Golden Lions to the 2012 SWAC Championship Game with a 10-2 overall record. The team has had three-straight seasons under .500 since 2012. UAPB was predicted to finish fifth in the SWAC West Division. Willie Duncan III, leads all returnees with 118 tackles (10.7 per game) and 7.5 tackles-for-loss. Wide receiver Willie Young had 50 catches for 597 yards last year.
Television: Ohio Valley Conference Digital Network. John Freeman will handle play-by-play duties while Howard Gentry, Jr. will provide analysis.
Radio: 102.1 FM The Light will carry the game live with Greg Pogue (play-by-play), Albert Dawson (analyst) and Gary Dawson (sideline). Pregame will begin at 2:00 p.m. CT
TSU vs. HBCUs: Tennessee State holds a 394-141-19 record against other HBCUs, good for a .728 winning percentage. Since taking over in 2010, Rod Reed holds a 17-4 against HBCUs for a winning percentage of .810. TSU’s most wins against D-I HBCU opponents are: Florida A&M (29), Southern (27) and Jackson State (27).
The Champs Are Here: The Big Blue’s 1956 team is being honored during the John Merritt Classic. The '56 squad put together a 10-0 record on its way to the Black College National Championship. The Tigers boasted a star-studded roster featuring six players who earned All-America honors during their time at TSU. On their way to the title game, YSU posted four shutouts during the season before beating Florida A&M in the Orange Blossom Classic, 41-39 to win the Black College National Championship. The attendance was listed as more than 40,000 for the game and they were treated to a thriller as TSU won on a last second defensive stand.
Facing the SWAC: Arkansas-Pine Bluff is the first of two SWAC teams on TSU’s schedule this season. The Tigers will play Jackson State on Sept. 10 in Memphis, Tenn. as part of the Southern Heritage Classic.