RICHMOND, Ky. --- Tennessee State prevented any hopes of posting a comeback victory by committing crucial turnovers and allowing Eastern Kentucky the big play in absorbing a 29-14 Ohio Valley Conference defeat Saturday afternoon.
The Tigers committed five turnovers, all inside EKU territory, and saw EKU reel off a 47-yard scoring run and a 97-yard kickoff return in the second half.
TSU had 356 yards of total offense to EKU's 232 yards. However, it proved to be the miscues that prevented the Tigers from being in position to come away with a victory against EKU, the team predicted to win the OVC crown this season.
"We just hurt ourselves and gave this game away with our turnovers and their big plays," said TSU head coach James Reese. "We were in position, but we could not take advantage of our opportunities."
Twice the Tigers pulled to within a touchdown after trailing 15-0 after the opening half only to see EKU respond with the pair of long scoring plays. After EKU held their 29-14 lead, the Tigers fumbled at the EKU 6-yard line and had a late drive stopped by an interception at the 35 yard line. An earlier pass interception in the third quarter had occurred at the EKU 23-yard line.
Anthony finished the game with 158 yards and two touchdowns. Bryson Rosser finished the game 35-16-2 for 150 yards before being injured late in the game and replaced by Riley Walker, who was coming back from an ankle and knee injury sustained two weeks ago at Eastern Illinois.
After trailing 15-0 at halftime, TSU came out and marched 67 yards in nine plays. All-American running back Charles Anthony scored on a 1-yard run and Joey Hudak's PAT had cut the advantage to 15-7 at the 8:24 mark.
EKU responded less that two minutes later as C.J. Johnson broke loose down the right sideline for a 47-yard scoring run.
TSU moved back to within a touchdown after Earnest Jones recovered a fumble at the EKU 1-yard line. Anthony scored on the next play and Hudak's PAT made the score 22-14 31 seconds into the fourth period.
However, EKU came back with another big play as Kyle Barber returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a TD. Phil Kuhl's PAT made the score 29-14 with 14:14 remaining in the game.
Eastern Kentucky had carried its 15-0 lead into halftime after scoring in its first two possessions of the game. Two key roughing the passer calls were instrumental in each of the scoring drives.
C.J. Hudson broke loose on a 31-yard run for the game's first score. Phil Kuhl's PAT made the score 7-0 at the 8:48 mark of the opening period.
Brandon Rosser scored on a 1-yard run to conclude a 62-yard drive. After an offsides penalty call against TSU on the PAT, EKU elected to try for a two-point conversion and Lewon Lurry converted the attempt on a reverse play.
The TSU defense was led by cornerback Darnell Ray who had nine total tackles and a pair of pass breakups. John Rhoden and Frantzy Dorlean each had seven tackles and a pair of tackles for loss.