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Southern Heritage Classic
Game 2: Tennessee State (1-0) vs. Jackson State (0-1)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018
Location: Memphis, Tenn.
Stadium: Liberty Bowl (59,308)
Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
TV: Fox Sports South
Audio: 102.1 FM
Live Stats: Statbroadcast
Series Information: This year plays host to the 29th annual Southern Heritage Classic at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Tennessee State has played in every Southern Heritage Classic game, while Jackson State has played in 27 contests. TSU faced Mississippi Valley State in 1991 and Grambling State in 1993. Tennessee State is 17-11 all-time in the SHC, 17-9 versus JSU in the classic. TSU has secured victories in 13 of the last 15 SHC contests, and has won six straight. This marks the 54th overall meeting with Jackson State, with Tennessee State leading 30-21-2 in the series.
Last Meeting: Tennessee State secured a 17-15 win last year, as a JSU 47 yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. Patrick Smith returned a punt 58 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter with just over five minutes remaining to put TSU up 17-9. Jackson State cut the lead to 17-15 when Terrell Kennedy returned the ensuing kickoff 87 yards for a touchdown. TSU held on to a slight edge as LaQuarius Cook broke up a pass on the two-point try. TSU quarterback Treon Harris earned MVP honors, rushing for 91 yards and a touchdown. Blair Edwards recorded a game high 12 tackles, six solo, and registered a sack.
Head Coach Rod Reed is in his ninth season at the helm of the Tigers and holds a 50-42 record. Coach Reed earned his 50th victory against Bethune-Cookman and became just the third coach in Tiger history to reach the milestone. John Merritt tops the list with 174 victories in his 20 years (1963-83) for a .806 winning percentage (174-35-7), while Harry Kean spent 10 years in charge of TSU from 1944-54 and compiled a 93-15-3 record (.838). The Big Blue is 8-1 in season openers under Reed, including a 17-10 win at FBS opponent Georgia State in 2017. The lone opening day loss came at the hands of Bethune-Cookman, 12-9, at the 2013 John Merritt Classic. The Tigers are 7-2 under Reed in the John Merritt Classic with the only other loss coming last year, a 19-16 double overtime decision to Eastern Illinois. Reed dropped his first two encounters against Jackson State, but has rebounded with six straight wins.
Tennessee State won on opening day for the fifth consecutive year, defeating Bethune-Cookman, 34-3. The defense held B-CU to nine first downs and did not allow a third down conversion until early in the fourth quarter. Blair Edwards and Dajour Nesbeth led the Tigers with seven tackles. Edwards was named Defensive MVP, recording one of the Tigers five sacks and 1.5 of the teams 9.0 tackles for loss. Nesbeth closed out the scoring with a 39-yard pick-six. The Big Blue tallied 525 yards, with Chris Rowland accounting for 226 all-purpose yards. Rowland earned Offensive MVP honors, setting career highs in receptions (7) and receiving yards (154). Micheal Hughes threw for 170 yards and a touchdown, completing 11-of-18 passes. Demry Croft received the starting nod and finished 8-of-14 for 154 yards.
Jackson State: Head coach Tony Hughes enters his third season at Jackson State and is coming off a 55-7 loss at Southern Miss. Keshawn Harper averaged 7.7 yards per carry, rushing for 69 yards on nine carries. The Tigers used 12 different receivers in the opening contest. Derrick Ponder was 12-of-29 for 62 yards with two interceptions, while Jarrad Hayes was solid in relief completing 7-of-8 for 36 yards and a touchdown. Darrius Woods and Quedarrion Barnett led JSU with six tackles.
Last 15 Results:
2017 - Tennessee State 17, Jackson State 15
2016 - Tennessee State 40, Jackson State 26
2015 - Tennessee State 35, Jackson State 25
2014 - Tennessee State 35, Jackson State 7
2013 - Tennessee State 26, Jackson State 16
2012 - Tennessee State 38, Jackson State 12
2011 - Jackson State 35, Tennessee State 29
2010 - Jackson State 33, Tennessee State 26
2009 - Tennessee State 14, Jackson State 7
2008 - Tennessee State 41, Jackson State 18
2007 - Tennessee State 16, Jackson State 13
2006 - Tennessee State 31, Jackson State 30
2005 - Tennessee State 20, Jackson State 14
2004 - Tennessee State 21, Jackson State 20
2003 - Tennessee State 44, Jackson State 14
TV: Fox Sports South. Pete Pranica will serve as play-by-play along with Brian Jordan who will provide analysis.
Radio: 102.1 FM will carry the game live with Greg Pogue (play-by-play), Albert Dawson (analyst), Craig Ladd (Scoreboard) and Gary Dawson (sideline). Pregame will begin at 5:30 p.m.
TSU HEAD COACH ROD REED
(On the win the John Merritt Classic)
"I thought that our guys came out and started fast. I thought we played well. We were able to get up 14 (points) early on. We were efficient moving the football on the ground as well as through the air. I thought both of our quarterbacks played well. Demry (Croft) started off a little slow. I think we inserted Mike (Hughes) maybe the third or fourth series. He took us down the field on a scoring drive, and then Demry came back and had a couple good series. That was a big question mark. I know everyone wanted to know what was happening with that position. I thought both of those guys played well. Our running backs ran the ball well. We were able to play really good defense, which forced a couple turnovers. Anytime you can get two or three turnovers in a game, you've got to feel good about that."
(On the impact of Te'kendrick Roberson and Christion Abercrombie)
"That's what we expected out of them. That's why they were brought here - to have an immediate impact. Anytime you go get a kid from junior college and then you get an FBS transfer, you expect them to come in and be able to give you a little shot in the arm. I thought they stepped up, and they played well. We were able to get Te'kendrick a few touches, and we have a lot of running backs. We're able to keep those guys fresh. Abercrombie, that was a big question mark. Everyone wanted to know with Chris Collins' departure, who would step up. I thought in this game, he stepped up and played pretty decent for us."
(On the quarterbacks - Demry Croft and Micheal Hughes)
"They're going to compete. We're going to keep that competition going. I was really satisfied with both of those guys. Mike got the opportunity to sit on the sideline and watch the first couple of series, and he did a really good job of being studious and taking notes of what was going on. When he got in there, he was able to find a couple of guys and drive us right down the field. Demry came back and threw some big balls and had some big plays."
(On the kicking game)
"I feel great. (Antonio Zita) made two field goals and made all of his extra points. We stuck Kaleb Mosley in there. Mosley has a little stronger leg. We had a 46-yarder and he just missed it to the right. We have a couple of kickers that we feel really good about. Hopefully they'll continue to mature as the year goes on and we'll be able to count on them in critical situations."
OFFENSIVE LINEMAN THOMAS BURTON
(on playing in Memphis for the Southern Heritage Classic)
“It’s always good to go home and play in front of the home crowd. That game, for sure, a lot of festivities, big crowd, it’s always fun. We’re excited for it.”
(on making sure the game doesn’t come down the last play like last Southern Heritage Classic)
“This year we’re looking to go down there and handle business, put them to sleep early so it won’t come down to the last play. We’re going to handle our business and everything will take care of itself.”
RUNNING BACK TE’KENDRICK ROBERSON
(on improving heading into the Southern Heritage Classic)
“I just feel like we have to clean up some stuff on film. We just have to get better at executing. In the fourth quarter (in the John Merritt Classic), we had a lot of penalties that set us back. We could have scored in the fourth quarter, but one of our touchdowns got called back. We need to execute more and finish in the end zone.”
(on not being satisfied with the win in week one)
“We want to get better every week in passing and rushing, so basically, we just have to get better at executing.”
LINEBACKER CHRISTION ABERCROMBIE
(on the performance in week one versus Bethune-Cookman)
“It’s the first game. We got our jitters out of the way. I think we played pretty well. We have some stuff to improve on, but overall, we played good. Defensively, we flew around. We could have finished a little harder, but overall we did well.”
(on staying focused when they’re facing a rival)
“Day-by-day, we just have to go to practice and work hard. We have to focus on what we have to focus on and execute each and every day.”
(on staying sharp on defense with substitutions coming in and out)
“We just have to stay focused during the game and know what we have to do – know our keys. Everyone playing has to know what they need to do.”