Sunday, October 12, 2003
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. --- The Tennessee State football team displayed the heart of a champion Saturday afternoon, posting a second half rally to score a big 27-23 victory over Ohio Valley Conference rival Tennessee Tech. The Tigers dug themselves a hole with turnovers that led directly to Tech's early lead and mistakes on the special teams. However, a gallant defensive effort and timely plays on offense led the Tigers to the victory. "When we go back and look at film and we look at the stats, we will see the turnovers and special teams' blunders, but one thing we will see is the fight that these young men had," said TSU head coach James Reese. "We could have been easily out of this game early, but these guys showed a lot of character and found a way to win." The Tigers trailed 23-9 at halftime, after committing three turnovers and seeing Tech recover a kickoff. In the second half, the Tigers came out and dominated both sides of the football, but again turnovers were costly as TSU threw an interception near the Tech end zone and also had a fumble stop the drive. However, led by a defense that allowed just two offensive yards and one first down in the final half, the Tigers had opportunities to win the game. After converting a field goal to conclude the first drive of the second half, the Tigers mistakes prevented any more points until deep into the fourth quarter. Bryson Rosser, who came on in relief of starter Riley Walker at quarterback, threw 32 yards to C.J. Johnson for a touchdown. Charles Anthony rushed for the two-point conversion to pull the Tigers to with 23-20 at the 5:52 mark of the fourth quarter. The Tiger defense then came through, moving Tech back with a quarterback sack that forced the Golden Eagles to punt from their own 13-yardline. The Tigers took over at their own 38. TSU moved to the 11-yardline, but a pair of penalties and a sack of Rosser put TSU back to the 25 and a third-and-24 situation. Rosser threw to Ronald Jackson who streaked down the left sideline into the end zone to give the Tigers the lead with 1:02 remaining. Following the kickoff, Tech had four straight incomplete passes and the Tigers took over with 39 seconds remaining. TSU ran for one first down and then was able to run out the clock. TSU ended the game with 479 total yards and 24 first downs. The Tiger defense limited Tech to 112 yards total defense and just six first downs. TSU kept possession of the football in the second half for more than 20 minutes. Anthony rushed for 150 yards on 33 carries. He had 121 yards in the second half. Johnson had his top receiving game of the year, catching seven passes for 175 yards and two TD's. Johnson had a 68-yard scoring catch from Rosser for TSU's first TD in the second quarter. Several Tiger defenders had big days. Linebacker James Dumervil had 16 total tackles, that included one sack. Defensive end Paul Thomas had three sacks, TSU had six sacks and a total of 13 tackles for loss in the game. The Tigers will return to the Coliseum to host new OVC member Jacksonville State next Saturday. Kickoff is 6 p.m.

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