ORANGEBURG, S.C. --- Tennessee State was plagued by turnovers and host South Carolina State was able to hold on to defeat the Tigers 26-20 in the 2002 season opener Saturday night.
The Tigers built a 10-0 lead after the first quarter of play and led 20-13 at halftime. South Carolina State rallied behind a rushing attack led by quarterback Reese Campbell who finished the game with 161 yards on 28 attempts.
?We didn't do the things we needed to win the game,? said Tiger head coach James Reese. ?We didn't sustain any consistent offense and did not protect our quarterback well. Our defense forced turnovers and for us to be successful, we must capitalize on those.?
The Tigers had the football inside SCSU's territory twice in the fourth period with a chance to take the lead. A Bryson Rosser pass intercepted at the Bulldogs' 2-yardline after the Tigers had a first-and-10 at the SCSU 23. The Tigers had another drive stopped at the 33 on an interception near the two-minute mark.
TSU had taken the lead at the 6:30 mark of the opening period. Scott Cunningham made an interception of 36 yards to the Bulldogs 13. However, the Tigers had to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Joey Hudak.
The Tigers increased the lead to 10-0 late in the opening period. Manny Robles came up with a fumble recovery at the SCSU 49-yardline. Rosser connected with Patrick Jenkins on a 28-yard screen pass on a third-and-4 play from the SCSU 28.
A TSU miscue accounted for SCSU's first points of the game. Dreak Pooler intercepted a Rosser pass under heavy pressure and went 30 yards down the sideline for a touchdown, making the score 10-7 with 11:33 remaining in the second period.
TSU struck for its big offensive play of the season near the two-minute mark. Rosser hooked up with Ronald Jackson on a 60-yard pass play with Jackson breaking in the open to run the distance.
SCSU came up with a big offensive play of its own as Campbell threw 31 yards to Terrance Metcalf for a TD in the corner of the end zone with 22 seconds left in the half.
The Bulldogs came out in the second half and tied the game with 7:25 left in the third period on a Chris Burgess rush from the Tiger 8-yard line. McCampbell scored what proved to be the game winner on a 37-yard run with 9:34 showing on the clock in the fourth period.
After the Tigers two drives were stopped, TSU had one play in the final seconds. Riley Walker's long pass was intercepted as the game ended.
The game was played on an overcast evening with a game-time temperature of 82 degrees. The field was wet and light rain fell during the course of the contest.
The Tigers will look to regroup this week as they host Prairie View A&M in the John Merritt Classic. The Tigers and Panthers will meet for the first time since the 1971 season.