Tigers Claw Back, Ground Skyhawks in OT, 30 - 27
Saturday, October 4, 2008

Javarris Williams Leads Tigers' Second-Half ComeBack


Martin, Tenn. - Once again trailing by double-digits, the Tennessee State University Tigers (5-1, 2-0) rallied back to knock off Ohio Valley Conference opponent Tennessee Martin (4-2, 2-1) for a 30-27 win in front of a record-breaking crowd of 7, 549 at Graham Stadium in Martin, Tenn. 

The Big Blue Defense set up three offensive scores while holding UTM to seven points in the second half.  Eugene Clifford led all defenders in tackles with eight (5 solo, 6 assists) and a fumble recovery.

The Skyhawks struck first on a 21-yard TD pass on their opening drive, however, the Tiger defense sparked momentum recovering a Skyhawk fumble.  

Antonio Heffner connected with Brandon Belvin on a 46-yard pass placing the Tigers in the red zone.  The play led to a 12-yard touchdown run by Dante Thomas. The point after tied the ball game, 7-7. Heffner finished throwing 10 of 21 with one interception for 155 yards and one rushing touchdown.

Javarris Williams tallied his 17th career 100+ yard game, rushing for 163 yards on 26 carries (6.3 ypg) , a total that included 107 yards in the second half. Williams' game-winning score gives him eight touchdowns on the season and 35 career rushing TDs. He remains second on the all-time list, six shy of the lead (41) held by Charles Anthony.

Early in the second quarter, UTM capitalized on two TSU turnovers. A Heffner interception led to a UTM 25-yard TD return and a fumble on the Tigers’ ensuing drive set up a 23-yard Skyhawk field goal. TSU trailed at the half, 17 – 7.

In the second half, the Tiger defense sparked two scoring drives. Interceptions by Sidney Tarver and Anthony Levine set up a Heffner 10-yd touchdown run with 9:27 remaining and an Eric Benson 20-yard field goal at the 2:30 mark.

After UTM answered back to take a seven-point lead, the Tigers retaliated going 15 plays for 77 yards (4:04), Heffner capped the drive on a sneak and TSU tied the score, 24-24.

With less than a minute remaining in the game, a costly motion penalty pushed the Tigers out of field goal range and negated an opportunity to win in regulation.

In overtime, the Tiger defense was once again a factor holding the Skyhawks to a field goal. TSU needed only two plays to score. Williams opened with a 14-yard run and sealed the win with an 11-yard touchdown.

The Tigers return to action after their bye week when they match-up with OVC opponent Austin Peay on October 18th at L.P. Field. Kick-off is scheduled for 5 p.m.