NASHVILLE --- Tennessee State put up a gallant effort against the nation's sixth-ranked NCAA Division I-AA team, but for the second straight year Eastern Illinois was able to score late in the game to win a record-breaking shootout, this time 54-48.
The Tigers trailed by as many as 14 points on three different occasions, but came back to tie the game at 48-48 with 5:23 remaining. Charles Anthony scored the tying TD on an 11-yard run, his third score of the game.
However, EIU under the direction of veteran signal caller Tony Romo, the two-time reigning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year, directed an 11-play 68-yard game-winning march which concluded with Andre Raymond scoring on an 11-yard run. The Tigers blocked the point after attempt, but EIU had regained the lead at 54-48 with 1:07 left.
TSU was able to get to midfield on its last possession, but EIU held the Tigers on downs and took over after a pass sack with two seconeds remaining.
The Tigers racked up 675 yards total offense in the effort. Riley Walker, returning to the starting position at quarterback, completed 21-42-1 passes for 435 yards and three TD's, all to C.J. Johnson. Johnson had seven catches for 245 yards, making scoring grabs of 73, 14, and 75 yards, the last coming in the fourth quarter, which pulled the Tigers to 48-41. The total yardage was four yards shy of tying the school record.
Charles Anthony rushed for a career-high 192 yards, the sixth highest total in TSU history. Anthony had scoring runs of 39 and two yards in addition to his final run.
The Tigers kept possession of the football for more than 37 minutes and rolled up 34 first downs. Turnovers hurt the Tigers as they committed four on the day, including one which set up a short EIU scoring drive in the fourth quarter.
TSU also had other chances early, but came up empty after missing field goals of 32 and 31 yards in the opening period.
EIU finished with 507 yards and the 1,182 yards total offense by the teams is a new TSU mark, breaking the old record of 1,153 in a game against Mississippi Valley State. The 102 points were tow shy of thing the mark of the same game in 1982 against the Delta Devils.
The Tigers had battled EIU last season, but the Panthers slipped past TSU 52-49, kicking a field goal on the last play of the game on their way to winning the OVC title.