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Game 6: Eastern Kentucky (2-3, 1-1) vs. Tennessee State (4-1, 1-1)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Venue: Nissan Stadium
Kickoff: 6:00 p.m. CT
Audio: 102.1 FM The Light
The Game: Today is the 29th meeting between Tennessee State and Eastern Kentucky, with the Colonels leading the series, 23-5. EKU has won the last three games, but the Tigers have won three of their five total wins over the past six meetings. The Tigers first met the Colonels in the NCAA playoffs, a 13-7 loss, in 1982. TSU earned its first win over EKU in 1998, 31-21. The Tigers last defeated the Colonels during the 2012 season, as part of the Big Blue's 7-0 start four years ago.
Last Meeting: The Colonels earned a 45-21 win in Richmond, Ky. as Tennessee State was unable to score in the first half despite possessing the ball for over 19 minutes. The Tigers found themselves behind 31-0 midway through the third quarter before Erick Evans’ 62-yard touchdown run. Ronald Butler continued the resurgence as he hit Patrick Smith a 63-yard touchdown pass and found Quindell Cousin for an 18-yard scoring play cutting the score to 38-21. EKU would shut the door on the Tigers with another score, ending the Big Blue’s hope for an epic comeback. On the day, the Colonels outgained TSU 549-351 despite Butler throwing for 222 yards. The junior quarterback finished the game 23-of-37 and threw a pair of interceptions to go along with his scoring tosses. Smith led all receivers with nine receptions for 119 yards and the score. On the ground, Evans led TSU with 85 yards on seven carries.
Head Coach: Rod Reed is in his seventh season at the helm of the Tigers. During his time at TSU, he has compiled a 40-35 record, including a 32-20 mark since 2012. Reed is 1-4 versus Eastern Kentucky.
Tennessee State: After a 35-34 loss at Eastern Illinois last week, Tennessee State fell to 4-1 on the season, 1-1 in OVC play. Kicker Lane Clark connected on a pair of field goals at EIU. His 52-yarder is the third longest in the OVC this season, behind his 57 and 54 yarders from two weeks ago. It also ranks as the fifth longest in FCS play. Clark is 8-for-12 on the season and a perfect 3-for-3 from beyond 50 yards. Ronald Butler threw for a career high 303 yards as he completed 15-of-27 passes with two touchdowns and an interception. Patrick Smith went for 160 yards on seven catches and a touchdown, while Steven Newbold added 121 yards and a touchdown on four receptions. Smith now has 16 touchdowns in his career over 15 games. Newbold’s play earned him adidas OVC Co-Newcomer of the Week honors. The true freshman ranks third in FCS play and first in the OVC averaging 24.11 yards per reception. Newbold has totaled 458 yards on 19 receptions. Last year’s top tackler, Chris Collins, has reestablished himself this season for the Big Blue. Collins leads the team with 36 tackles, 27 solo’s, and has 5.5 tackles-for-loss, including 1.5 sacks. Laquarius Cook offers support from the safety position with 35 tackles.
Eastern Kentucky: The Colonels are led by quarterback Bennie Coney who has thrown for eight touchdowns and 960 yards. Devin Borders, Ryan Markush and Dan Crimmins have stepped up as favorites for Coney. Borders leads all receivers in catches (28), yards (399) and touchdowns (5). Markush leads the team with 16.4 yards per reception as he has hauled in 19 passes for 312 yards, while Crimmins has added 15 catches for 214 yards. Jeffrey Canady and Kiante Northington top the defense with 51 and 49 tackles, respectively. The Colonels rely on Aaron Patrick and Patrick Graffree to provide the pressure. Patrick has amassed 5.5 tackles-for-loss, 4.5 sacks and four quarterback hurries. Graffree completes the one-two punch with 5.0 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks.
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 5:30 p.m. CT.