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Tigers Fall to Jacksonville State in Season Finale
Sunday, November 20, 2011
Tigers Fall to Jacksonville State in Season Finale
Nashville, Tenn.-Tennessee State dropped the final game of the 2011 season to Jacksonville State Saturday afternoon in front of 6,137 fans at LP Field. The Gamecocks ended the Tigers hope for a share of the Ohio Valley Conference regular season title with a 38-16 loss.

The Tigers finished the season 5-6, 4-4 in the OVC. Jacksonville State improved to 7-4 and claimed a share of the OVC regular season championship at 6-2.

The Tigers were stopped on three plays to start the game, but Coach Rod Reed's gamble of a fake punt paid off as freshman punter Matt Moseley completed an eight yard pass to Darrien Hanna at the TSU 44 to keep the drive alive. The Gamecocks would stand tall on the drive and create some early momentum which they turned into points on their first possession.

JSU quarterback Coty Blanchard and wide receiver Alan Bonner would set the tone early as they connected on a 51-yard play action pass to the Tiger 14-yard line. Running back Washuan Ealey would rush into the end zone on the very next play to give the Gamecocks a 7-0 lead.

On the ensuing kick-off, Weldon Garlington gave the Tigers good field position as he returned the ball for 38 yards to the TSU 44. Mike German moved the Big Blue down the field completing 4-of-5 passes including a 25-yarder to Wesley Samuels getting the Tigers to the JSU 17. Kicker Jamin Godfrey would put TSU on the scoreboard with a 28-yard field goal and cut the lead to 7-3.

The Tigers turned the tide in their favor as red-shirt freshman Dare Ayoola forced a fumble on the kick-off, allowing Godfrey to recover the ball at the Gamecocks 38. It would only take two plays for the Tigers to reach the goal line as Dante' Thomas scampered 24 yards to put TSU on top 10-7 at the 4:32 mark in the first quarter.

On the play, Thomas moved into fourth on the all-time rushing leaderboard for TSU. The senior running back finished his career with 1,800 yards as he passed Eugene Bowens who rushed for 1,793 yards from 1963-1966.

JSU would take control in the second quarter as they possessed the ball for over 12 minutes. They opened the second stanza by going 80 yards in eight plays to regain the lead, 14-10, on a 27-yard run by Blanchard. The Gamecocks added a 14-play drive which concluded with a 42-yard field goal by James Esco to extend the lead to 17-10 at half time.

JSU jumped out to a 24-10 lead after the break as Blanchard hit Calvin Middleton on a two-yard pass. The Tigers came right back on their next possession converting on two fourth-down plays and traveled 74 yards on 16 plays. German found tight end JeMarc Sears for a two-yard touchdown cutting the lead to 24-16, after Godfrey's extra point attempt hit the right upright.

The Gamecocks added a Blanchard to Middleton touchdown with 2:30 remaining to increase the lead to 31-16. The Tigers would not quit as Mike West returned the kick-off 24 yards to the JSU 44. German would take the Tigers down to the six-yard line, but Jacksonville State's Pierre Warren would end the TSU threat as he stepped in front of a pass and returned it 98 yards to cap the scoring at 38-16.

German hit nine different receivers as he finished 25-of-42 for 254 yards and one touchdown with three interceptions. McNairl led the Tiger receivers with five receptions for 80 yards.

JSU shutdown the potent Tiger running attack, holding Trabis Ward to 37 yards on 18 carries.

Bonner led all receivers with seven catches and 127 yards. Blanchard was 15-of-19 for 213 yards and two touchdowns and added 38 yards on the ground. Middleton led all rushers with 72 yards on 15 carries, while Ealey added 70 yards on 15 carries.

Redshirt-freshman Daniel Fitzpatrick led TSU in tackles for the fifth consecutive week with eight tackles, .5 for loss. Antonio Harper and Lawrence Peterson each recorded one sack.

Tennessee State did capture the Sgt. York trophy as Tennessee Tech defeated Austin Peay on Saturday afternoon. It is the third time the Tigers have held the trophy that goes to the annual winner of the quadrangular season series between the four OVC institutions from Tennessee.