ATLANTA --- Tennessee State was hurt by the turnover for the first time this season and Florida A&M came through with the big play down the stretch to edge the Tigers 21-15 in the 2004 Atlanta Football Classic at the Gerorgia Dome before more than 67,700 fans.
The Tigers led 13-6 at halftime and managed an early fourth quarter safety after a blocked punt. Florida A&M came back with a pair of scoring passes in the period, the last coming on a 37-yard pass from Ben Dougherty to Roosevelt Kiser with 2:12 remaining.
"You have to take your hats off to FAMU," said TSU head coach James Reese. "They made the big plays when the game was on the line."
The Tigers made one last drive, picking up a first down, but backup quarterback Riley Walker had a pass intercepted with 18 seconds remaining. FAMU downed the ball to run out the clock.
Running back Charles Anthony rushed for 155 yards on 31 carries. TSU starting quarterback Bryson Rosser was 10-20-2 for 122 yards before giving way to Walker in the fourth quarter for the second straight week.
TSU finished the game with 324 yards total offense while passing oriented Rattlers finished with 403 yards. Quarterback Ben Dougherty was 30-47-1 for 340 yards.
The defensive unit again sparked the Tigers to their first score of the game. Sophomore defensive back Aaron Strong intercepted a Ben Dougherty pass at the FAMU 45-yardline and returned it 35 yards to the Rattlers 10-yardline.
Quarterback Bryson Rosser threw a 10-yard scoring strike to Fred Burnette on the next play. However, Henry Tahir's PAT kick was no good.
The Tigers special teams then came up with a big play on the ensuing kickoff. Dominique Rodgers recovered a fumble at the FAMU 24-yardline. Rosser threw 20 yards to Kevin Hollis. Charles Anthony scored two plays later as time expired in the first half. Joey's Hudak's PAT gave the Tigers the 13-6 lead at intermission.
TSU will look to get back in the win column next week when the Tigers play South Carolina State in the Circle City Classic.