|August 31, 2019||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||Final|
|TSU||TD||00:00||ROSENDAHL 8 Yd Run (ZITA kick)|
|MVSU||TD||02:17||Daniels (Schuster missed kick)|
|TSU||FG||00:00||ZITA 31 Yd|
|MVSU||TD||13:29||Wilson 2 Yd Pass From Bryant (Schuster kick)|
|TSU||TD||12:24||ROWLAND 53 Yd Pass From ROSENDAHL (ZITA kick)|
|TSU||FG||04:39||ZITA 28 Yd|
|TSU||FG||10:47||ZITA 44 Yd|
|MVSU||TD||07:16||Bryant 4 Yd Run (Schuster kick)|
|TSU||FG||03:10||ZITA 26 Yd|
|Stats at a Glance||MVSU||TSU|
|3rd Down Conversions||7-20||6-17|
|4th Down Conversions||2-3||0-0|
|Passing (Comp-Att)||205 (27-52)||330 (25-42)|
|Rushing (Att)||42 (18)||117 (37)|
John Merritt Classic
Game 1: Tennessee State (0-0) vs. Mississippi Valley State (0-0)
Date: Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Stadium: Nissan Stadium (69,143)
Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
Audio: 102.1 FM
Live Stats: Statbroadcast
Series Information: This is the eighth meeting between TSU and Mississippi Valley State with the Tigers leading the series, 4-3. The Big Blue won in decisive fashion, 41-3, the last time the teams met in 2001. The Tigers claimed the first meeting, 63-41, in 1982. The Delta Devils garnered wins in 1983 and 1985 before the TSU won in 1988 and 1990. MVSU evened the series at three games apiece in 1991.
The John Merritt Classic:
The 21st annual John Merritt Classic kicks off the 2019 season for Tennessee State. The JMC, first played in 1999, honors John A. Merritt, the legendary TSU football coach who led the Tigers from 1963-1983. During 21 seasons, “Big John” won four undisputed national championships among historically black colleges ranked by the Sheridan Poll, while compiling a lifetime record of 172-33-1. The JMC is one of only two football Classics solely hosted by a single NCAA FCS institution. The Tigers topped Bethune-Cookman 34-3 in 2018. TSU improved to 14-6 all-time at the JMC. This marks the first time Mississippi Valley State has played in the John Merritt Classic.
Head Coach Rod Reed:
Coach Reed is in his tenth season at the helm of the Tigers and holds a 53-47 record. Only two coaches have produced more wins at TSU. John Merritt claimed 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). TSU is 8-1 in season openers under Rod 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 John Merritt Classic in 2013.
TSU encountered an odd occurance by having two games cancelled due to weather last year. The Big Blue played only nine games for the first time since 1975. Head coach Rod Reed looks to improve on a 4-5 season with 47 letterwinners, including eight offensive and seven defensive starters. Among the offensive returners is senior wide receiver and return specialist Chris Rowland, who was named an All-American by HERO Sports a season ago. Rowland ranked 11th nationally in receptions/game (7.1) and 20th in receiving yards/game (90.9), finishing the year with 57 catches for 727 yards and five touchdowns. He also ranked sixth nationally in punt returns, averaging 13.0 yards on 14 returns. Cameron Rosendahl and Micheal Hughes return at quarterback with experience and wins under their belts. Rosendahl led the Tigers to a win over UT Martin in the final game of the season with a three touchdown performance. Hughes guided TSU to a Homecoming win over Tennessee Tech and was named OVC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. TSU also had a pair of offensive linemen named to the Preseason All-OVC team in senior center Thomas Burton and senior guard Raekwon Allen. Defensively senior Dajour Nesbeth was named a Preseason All-OVC pick after earning first-team All-OVC honors in 2018 when he had a team-high 58 tackles and four interceptions.
Mississippi Valley State:
Head coach Vincent Dancy enters his second season and looks to build on a 1-10 campaign. Valley was tabbed fifth in the MEAC East Division in the conference's preseason poll. Fewer than half of last year’s players return. MVSU brought in a host of junior college athletes, along with several true freshmen. MVSU will have to replace graduated wide receiver Booker Chambers who earned two spots on the All-SWAC team with 1,662 all purpose yards. Returning quarterback Dejerric Bryant leads the offense that scored just under 20 points per game. Leading tackler Tadarius Davis is back for another year, along with Tracy Thompkins, Jamenta Shaw, and Jerry Garner. Davis registered 101 tackles, 6.5 for loss, had 6 quarterback hurries and recovered three fumbles. Senior safety Tracy Thompkins had 75 tackles and an interception in 10 games a year ago.
2001 - Tennessee State 41, Mississippi Valley State 3
1991 - Mississippi Valley State 10, Tennessee State 7
1990 - Tennessee State 45, Mississippi Valley State 7
1988 - Tennessee State 13, Mississippi Valley State 6
1985 - Mississippi Valley State 28, Tennessee State 13
1983 - Mississippi Valley State 51, Tennessee State 38
1982 - Tennessee State 63, Mississippi Valley State 41
TV: ESPN+. Howard Gentry, Jr. will serve as play-by-play along with Derek Fleming 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.
Head Coach Rod Reed
- On kicking off the season versus Mississippi Valley State
"Like everybody, we’re excited to start the season and we’re going to play a quality opponent in Mississippi Valley. We had a really good camp. Our guys have made progress and I’m excited to see where we take the things we did in spring, summer and camp translate to what we put on the field on Saturday."
- On MVSU wide-open offense with Willie Totten at the OC
"I’m glad they don’t have a Totten and Rice duo, but they have some pretty good skilled players and they have a nice quarterback from last year that throws the ball around pretty well, and he’s a runner. They read zone, so they’ll try and get after you a little bit with their perimeter game and we have to be prepared for that. Anytime you’re in the first game, it’s an unknown. The first game is a game within a game. Adjustments will be key in anything we do."
- On which unit had the best camp
"Our defense had a great camp and as always you want your defense to be a little ahead of your offense, and if it’s the opposite, you’ll have some problems. I think we’ve added some quality depth to our defense up front. We’ve got some young guys, Terry Straughter and Jahsun Bryant – both of them will be sophomore linebackers. They both had to play a lot last year due to the wealth of injuries we had, but they gained a lot of experience. I’m excited about those two guys and what we have up front. In the secondary, we have Dajour Nesbeth back, Ray Coggins, Nick Harper, Jr. and Neiman Armstrong. We have some depth on the defensive side of the ball and they’ve had a really good camp. That’s not to discount what the offense has done. We still have guys like Chris Rowland and Steven Newbold and if we stay healthy, we can make a run."
- On the quarterback who will start the first game
"Cam will lead us. He’s pretty sharp. Had a pretty good camp. He started for us in our last game against Martin and was able to lead us to victory. He’s carried over into spring and fall camp. Michael Hughes is on deck. We know what we have in him. We have two quality quarterbacks and feel really good about it. We’re trying to get Octavious Battle caught up to speed. He was late joining us in camp, but we’re excited about those guys."
- On guys who fans don’t know their names, but will make a contribution early in the season
"We have a defensive guy, Emmanuel Olenga, a JUCO defensive end. Dante’ Ferguson, who is actually a walk-on here, played a little bit last year, but has grasped the defensive book, and we’re excited about him. On the offensive line, we have Cam Durley and Will James. Jaalon Gupton, a freshman out of Stratford High School here, will make a significant impact."
- On picking MVSU for John Merritt Classic
"It’s HBCU football. We have a quality opponent in MVSU. It’s a storied program with Willie Totten and Jerry Rice. I can remember back in the day playing against those guys. It was always a high-scoring game. Hopefully won’t be that high this year. It’s great to have an HBCU coming in, hopefully they bring in a few fans. Our guys are excited and ready to play this team."
Mississippi Valley State Head Coach Vincent Dancy
- On camp
"I thought our guys responded well coming out of camp. I’m excited about the guys we brought in to create enough depth around our team. They responded well to challenges we put them through. I’m excited."
- On Tennessee State
"Very solid football team. They’re a very fast and physical team out of the OVC. Reed does a great job getting those guys prepared as he goes into his 10th season at TSU. But, we’ll be ready."
- On tough schedule
"I think the first game is going to be challenge for us, but will be a good marker for the next games against Alcorn State and Bethune-Cookman."
- On the players buying in
"I thought we kind of established that last year with being physical. We’re a physical team, and let people know when you battle Mississippi Valley State you’re going to get our best for four straight quarters. That’s all I want the guys to do. I want them to go out, stay physical, stay within themselves, stay within the schemes of the offense and defense and let the chips fall as they may."