NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State football participated in its first scrimmage of the 2017 season at Hale Stadium on Saturday morning. The defense held the upper hand for the majority of the 55 play scrimmage by recording two sacks and three interceptions, before the offense could get on track.
Treon Harris led the quarterbacks with nine completions in 17 attempts for 138 yards and a touchdown. Harris led the Tigers on the ground with 39 yards on six carries. Sabree Curtis and Michael Hughes each carried the ball seven times and crossed the goal line. Curtis finished with 36 yards, ahead of Hughes with 31.
The top defensive unit surrendered a first down to the offensive first unit on each of the first two possessions before forcing a stop. The second units took the field with Hughes rushing for a first down to continue his first drive. The possession ended a play later as freshman Michael Crawford stepped in front of a Hughes pass.
The second unit began with a pair of runs and faced a long third down conversion. Hughes picked up an errant snap and scrambled to keep the play alive. The redshirt sophomore found some room to deliver a pass, but the defense responded with a tip drill which was pulled down by transfer corner, Neiman Armstrong.
The second team defense continued the pressure forcing a pair of three and outs, with the second ending in a sack by sophomore defensive tackle Michael Perry and redshirt junior Marvin Maddox.
Harris brought the first unit back onto the field and opened the drive connecting with Mahlon Medley for a 41 yard gain. The unit would get inside the 10-yard line, but would settle for a Mitchell Boudreaux 29-yard field goal for the first score of the day.
Hughes returned with the second unit only to experience a similar result. Sophomore safety Larry Wilhoite stepped in front of a Hughes pass to thwart the drive.
Harris would engineer a scoring drive the next time on the field. The transfer signal caller connected with Steven Newbold for nine yards on the first play and teamed up with Seth Rowland for back-to-back completions of 13 and eight yards, respectively. The final blow came as Harris went back to Medley who broke a couple tackles for a 38 yard scoring play.
Hughes would get the second unit moving on the final series of the 55-play portion of the scrimmage as he used his legs to pick up a pair of first downs. The two runs by the Nashville product both went for 10 yards to help the Tigers reach midfield. A four-yard run by Jordan Bell helped the squad move past midfield, but once again the defense stood tall as Jason Morrow broke through to record the second sack of the day.
Harris and Hughes each had an opportunity to run a series in the red zone portion of the scrimmage. Harris’ unit came up short on a missed goal, while Hughes needed just three plays to lead his squad to pay dirt.
Hughes started with a six yard pass to Chris Rowland and followed up with a 10-yard pass to Seth Rowland. On first and goal from the nine, Hughes dropped back to pass before taking advantage of hole created by the line to sprint for the end zone.
In the final session of the scrimmage, the Tigers ran a two-minute drill. Harris used his legs to scramble for an eight yard gain and stopped the clock by getting out of bounds. The first team picked up a large chunk of the yardage as Harris hit DeVon Johnson for 24 yards. Later in the drive, Harris kept the Tigers on the field converting on a 17 yard run on fourth and nine.
Sabree Curtis rushed for seven yards on first and goal from the eight to put the Tigers at the doorstep with just under 20 seconds to go. Curtis capped off the 10 play drive with a one yard run with 11 seconds remaining on the clock.
The Tigers will continue camp on Monday afternoon, leading up to the second scrimmage scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 12.
Defensive Coordinator Garry Fisher
- On first scrimmage
“I thought we had a good day. We had a number of turnovers, a couple interceptions and a lot of tackles in the backfield. Our guys really flew around today. We had great effort as far as getting to the football. I was very enthused about what we did out there today.”
- On how to get better
“We still have a lot of young guys. We still had a lot of mental errors and mistakes we have to correct, but that's what camp is about.”
Senior linebacker Chris Collins
- On the scrimmage:
“It was a good day. There was a lot of high competition on both sides of the ball. The defense played really well and the offense had high points as well moving the ball down the field. (Mahlon) Medley made some great catches.”
- On what the defense needs to work on
“We need to keep moving forward. We can't settle. We can't relax. We have to keep making progress, because we want to be the best defense in the nation. We can't have any dry days. We can't have any average days. We have to keep moving forward and getting better every day.”
- On personal improvement
“I need to keep working on communication, chemistry and getting on the same page as far as players and coaches. I need to let everyone know you can stay late and get in a little extra work. Nothing is wrong with that, and that's what we want to do.”
Offensive coordinator Jeff Parker
- On the offense
“I am pretty satisfied with the guys' effort. We had some guys coming off of injury on our offensive line. It was a great experience for the guys.”
- On improvements
“Going forward we're going to work on running the football. I feel like our receivers and quarterbacks can throw against anybody in our league but we want to get to the top of the league in rushing. Our defense did a good job of stopping us today; they made a conscious effort of making sure no one ran the football on them.”
Junior tight end Mahlon Medley
- On first scrimmage
“It was pretty good. The defense came out flying. Offensively we can move the ball we just have to cut down on the turnovers. We have to make it easier on ourselves. We can't start off first and 15 and set ourselves back.”
- On big plays
“It was just good play calling. I just made a couple good plays.”