Tigers Down Eastern Kentucky 34-20
Saturday, September 20, 2008
Heffner Leads Tigers to 4-0 Start
The Tennessee State University Tigers opened their Ohio Valley Conference season on a positive note, downing the Colonels of Eastern Kentucky 34-20 in front of 8,276 fans at LP Field in Nashville. The win pushed TSU’s record to 4-0 (1-0 OVC) on the young season, the best start for the Tiger program since 2001, when the opened the year with six straight wins en route to an 8-3 final finish.

The Tigers were led by senior QB Antonio Heffner, who passed for 312 yards (20-28-2) with 3 TDs and rushed for 48 yards for 360 yards of Total Offense. Senior receivers Brandon Belvin and Chris Johnson both went over the century mark with 120 and 112 yard respectively in the game. Belvin also caught two TDs (62 & 19). Senior running back Javarris Williams had his first 100+ yard game of the season, gaining 117 yards and 1 TD on 17 carries. This marked the sixteenth 100+ yard game in his career.

Williams finished the game with 146 All-Purpose yards. Belvin and Johnson totaled 120 yards in All-Purpose yards each and junior WR JaJuan Spillman totaled 111 All-Purpose yards.

Defensively, safety Larry Williford led the Tigers with nine tackles (5 solo) and linebacker Rodney Fritz led TSU in sacks with 2 (16).

On the game, TSU never trailed jumping out to a 7-0 lead (10:16) on a Javarris Williams 48 yard TD run. The Tigers tacked on a 35 yd FG near the end of the first quarter (3:04) for a 10-3 first quarter lead. Eastern Kentucky closed the score to 10-6 early in the second quarter (12:36) on a 30 yd FG, but TSU stuck on a 62 yard strike from Heffner to Belvin to stretch the score at 17-6 midway through the period (5:31). EKU battled back on a 76-yd drive to score a TD and pull to within 17-13 (2:46). TSU countered with a 7-play, 50 yd drive to boot a 21 yd FG for a 20-13 lead as the horn sounded to end the half.

In the third quarter, each team traded TDs with the Tigers scoring on a 19 yd TD pass from Heffner to Belvin for a 27-13 lead at the 4:55 mark. and EKU  posting a TD on a 1-yd run at 2:05 for a 27-20 score.

TSU’s Ronald Evans caught a 3-yd Heffner pass early in the fourth quarter (12:19) culminating a 12-play, 65 yd drive,  for the deciding 34-20 margin of victory.
Statistically, the Tigers rolled up 541 yards in Total Offense, converting on 8-of-15 third down conversions and 1-of-1 on fourth down conversions. TSU yielded just 253 yards in Total Offense by EKU.
The Tigers will play their final non-conference game next week (9/27), when they meet Florida A&M in the 20th Bank of America Atlanta Football Classic at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, GA. The game will be televised nationally on the VERSUS network. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:00 p CT.