NASHVILLE --- The Tennessee State Tigers will have the task of playing another hot offensive team in their final road game of the 2002 season when they tangle with the Murray State Racers Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is 1:30 from MSU’s Stewart Stadium.
The Tigers will make the journey to Murray, Ky. to play a Racer squad which has tallied a combined total of 92 points in its last two victories. The Tigers will play on artificial turf for the third time this season and against a MSU team that is unbeaten in four previous home games this season.
TSU pushed the nation’s sixth-ranked team to the limit last week before Eastern Illinois was able to score near the final minute of play to escape the Coliseum with a 54-48 victory. The Tigers had a season-high 675 yards in the game in the offensive show which saw the teams combine for a TSU record in combined total offense.
Sophomore Riley Walker returned to the starting lineup at quarterback and had a big game. Walker, making his first start since the Southern Heritage Classic, completed 21-42-1 passes for 435 yards and three TD’s.
The Tigers had a pair of players to score three TD’s each. C.J. Johnson had three TD receptions and finished the game with seven catches for 245 yards. Sophomore running back Charles Anthony rushed for a career-high 192 yards and crossed the goal line three times. Anthony is the reigning OVC Offensive Player of the Week for his performance in the contest.
TSU will be going against a Murray State offense that scored 38 points in a win over Southeast Missouri and came back for 54 points in a 37-point win over future OVC member Samford last Saturday. Quarterback Stewart Childress threw for 270 yards in the Samford win. MSU is the conference’s top rushing team and rank ninth nationally in Division I-AA, averaging 244 yards a game on the ground.
The Tiger defense is led by senior linebacker Jermaine Beale, who has 75 total tackles. Junior defensive back Scott Cunningham is the OVC leader in pass defended with 15 breakups and a pair of interceptions.
The Murray State defense allowed only three points. Samford had a pair of 95-yard kickoff returns for TD’s.
The last four meetings between the two schools have been offensive shootouts. The Tigers have won three out of the last four meetings between the teams, including a 38-25 decision last season. TSU has averaged 42 points a game in the last four games while MSU has averaged 43 points over the span.