caution (April 26, 2020) Tennessee State University is continuing to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19), and is committed to using all resources to keep the TSU Family abreast of the latest information regarding academic delivery, campus operations and COVID-19. TSU students needing more information about online classes or campus operations should visit the Student Information section. Learn More Here.

September 30, 20171st2nd3rd4th1OT 2OT Final
Eastern Illinois73003619
Tennessee State07033316
1st Quarter
EIUTD12:25GILKEY 9 Yd Run (WILSON kick)
2nd Quarter
TSUTD02:17HARRISON 1 Yd Run (CLARK kick)
4th Quarter
Stats at a GlanceEIUTSU
1st Downs1414
3rd Down Conversions5-203-14
4th Down Conversions1-21-2
Passing (Comp-Att)46 (11-26) 195 (17-30)
Rushing (Att)191 (52) 83 (37)
Total Yards237278
Fumbles Lost03
John Merritt Classic Next for #24 Tennessee State
Thursday, September 28, 2017
John Merritt Classic Next for #24 Tennessee State

Tennessee State Game Notes | Eastern Illinois Game Notes
2017 Tennessee State Media Guide | Live Stats

Social Media: #BigBlueRising

Twitter: @TSU_Tigers | Instagram: @TSUTigers
Facebook: Tennessee State University Tigers

John Merritt Classic
Game 5: #24 Tennessee State (3-1) vs. Eastern Illinois (2-2)
Date: Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017
Location: Nashville, Tenn.
Stadium: Nissan Stadium (69,143)
Time: 6:00 p.m. CT
Audio: 102.1 FM
Live Stats: Statbroadcast

Series Information: This marks the 22nd meeting between Tennessee State and Eastern Illinois. The Panthers lead the series, 13-8, including winning ten of the last 13 contests. TSU won the first three games of the series, starting with a 20-19 decision in 1982. The Panthers first gained a win over the Tigers in 2000, 33-19. TSU last defeated EIU in 2011 with an 18-17 victory in Charleston. The win for the Big Blue is the lone win for Rod Reed against the Panthers during his tenure as head coach. The Tigers are 6-4 versus EIU in Nashville.

Last Meeting:
Tennessee State suffered its first loss of the 2016 season, falling 35-34 at Eastern Illinois. Quarterback Ronald Butler passed for 303 yards with touchdown passes to Patrick Smith and Steven Newbold. Smith finished with seven receptions for 160 yards, while Newbold pulled down four passes for 121 yards. Defensively, Chris Collins registered 12 total tackles and an interception.

EIU grabbed a 14-0 lead in the first quarter before Chris Rowland's 65 yard kickoff return led to a Lane Clark 37 yard field goal to get TSU on the board. A Butler six-yard scoring run brought TSU back to within four, 14-10. Trailing 21-10, Clark would connect from 52 yards as time expired in the first half. The Tigers would move to within one, 21-20, as Earl Harrison powered in from three yards out. After an EIU touchdown, the Tigers scored back-to-back touchdowns to take a 34-28 advantage in the fourth stanza. Smith opened the scoring with a spectacular one armed reception for a 56 yard touchdown, while Newbold followed by out maneuvering his defender before diving into the end zone to give the Tigers the lead. TSU was unable to hold on as EIU scored the game winner with 9:00 left in the contest.

Head Coach Rod Reed:
Coach Reed is in his eighth season at the helm of the Tigers. During his time at TSU, he has compiled a 46-38 record, including a 37-23 mark since 2012. Reed is the third winningest coach in Tennessee State Football History behind John Merritt and Harry Kean. John Merritt claimed 174 victories in his 20 years (1963-83) at TSU; He finished with a .806 winning percentage (174-35-7). Harry Kean spent 10 years in charge of TSU from 1944-54 and compiled a 93-15-3 record (.838).

Tennessee State:
TSU fell to 3-1, 0-1 in Ohio Valley Conference play, after falling at UT Martin 31-16. The Tigers fell behind 24-0 before DeVon Johnson returned a kickoff 96 yards to get the Big Blue on the board. A safety and a Treon Harris one-yard touchdown run brought TSU back within a possession at 24-16. The Tigers would move the ball into scoring position after a UTM touchdown, but was unable to get closer to the Skyhawks. Tennessee State outgained UT Martin, 259-240. After the Skyhawks totaled 130 yards in the first quarter, the Tigers held UTM to 110 yards over the final three periods. Patrick Smith caught five passes for 63 yards. Smith moved past Tyrone Butterfield (1997-98, 131 receptions) into seventh in career receptions at TSU with 134 and moved into seventh in career receiving yards with 2,181 yards, ahead of Chris Johnson (2004-08, 2,155 yards). Chris Collins collected eight tackles in the contest and moved into a tie for 10th on the TSU career tackle list with 206, matching former Tiger Lee Smith who accomplished 206 stops from 1987-90. The Tigers are ranked 12th in the nation in total defense holding teams to 269.5 yards per game and are 11th in rushing defense (75.5 yds/game). DeVon Johnson is one 13 players at the FCS level to return a kick-off for a touchdown. His 96 yarder is the fourth longest this season.

Eastern Illinois:
The Panthers enter the John Merritt Classic at 2-2 and opened OVC play with a 19-16 win over Southeast Missouri State. Bradley Dewberry intercepted a pass at the one yard line with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game to preserve the win. Scotty Gilkey was at the helm for the Panthers, filling in for injured starting quarterback Mitch Kimble. Gilkey is 11-of-27 for 159 yards with two touchdowns and an interception this season. Kimble has thrown for 415 yards and a touchdown while completing 52-of-92 passes while tossing two interceptions. Alexander Hollins has been the Panthers favorite target with 19 receptions for 229 yards and two touchdowns. Isaiah Johnson leads the running attack with 174 yards on 38 carries and a touchdown. Defensively, Tray Mitchell has registered 29 tackles, 19 solo, three for loss and a sack. Dewberry follows with 23 stops, 17 unassisted.

Last 10 Results:
2016 - Eastern Illinois 35, Tennessee State 34
2015 - Eastern Illinois 25, Tennessee State 22 ot
2014 - Eastern Illinois 28, Tennessee State 3
2013 - Eastern Illinois 51, Tennessee State 10 *
           Eastern Illinois 34, Tennessee State 16
2011 - Tennessee State 18, Eastern Illinois 17
2010 - Eastern Illinois 31, Tennessee State 28 ot
2009 - Tennessee State 21, Eastern Illinois 10
2008 - Tennessee State 45, Eastern Illinois 24
2007 - Eastern Illinois 38, Tennessee State 35
* - NCAA Second Round Game

TV: ESPN3. Kevin Ingram will serve as play-by-play along with Bob Belvin who will provide analysis.

Radio: 102.1 FM will carry the game live with Greg Pogue (play-by-play), Albert Dawson (analyst), Craig Ladd (Scoreboard) and Gary Dawson (sideline). Pregame will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Head Coach Rod Reed
- Thoughts on his team
“We took one on the chin on Saturday. We knew it was going to be a tough environment down at UT Martin. We knew they would be very well coached and a very prepared football team. We didn’t respond early. They kind of hit us in the mouth early. I thought we gathered ourselves and were able to bounce back, but they were able to maintain and hang on. We played sporadically on offense. Defensively, I thought we played ok. That’s a high-powered offense over there. When you get in games like that and you turn the ball over and make special team errors like that, you can’t expect to come out on the winning end. We have some things to clean up.”

- On playing from behind
“It isn’t anywhere we haven’t been before, so I wasn’t really nervous about it. I just thought if we could get things going offensively, that we would give ourselves an opportunity, but I don’t think we got the ball in the hands of our playmakers enough. That’s a credit to them. They did a good job of taking that away. Getting behind and playing a good defense, then you turn the ball over – that doesn’t make for a good mix.”

- On facing a running quarterback versus EIU
“They do it out of a lot of big sets. They do it with two or three tight ends and they’re doing some QB power and the QB read, so it’s a little bit different. It kind of creates a different spacing and creates so extra gaps in there. They’re doing a good job of using him and using his potential. They’ve got some speed on the outside, which prohibits you from staking the box.”

Eastern Illinois Head Coach Kim Dameron
- Thoughts on his team
“We went into the week saying we needed to be 1-0 that week, and we were able to accomplish that. It was a heck of a football game and it came down to the last drive. We were able to make one more play than they did and preserve the win. Now we turn the page and are trying to get ready to go to play a very good TSU team in Nashville. Just like always, they’ve got some dynamic players. They’re well coached and they play extremely hard. They’re a very good football team. Our goal again this week is just trying to be 1-0 and find a way to get a conference win on the road. It’s always a good game when we play TSU.”

- On areas they are looking to improve
“To be able to be competitive with them, we have to continue to do some things. We’ve got to sure up our kicking game in all phases. We’ve got to be able to get better offensively and be able to hit some explosive passing plays. Defensively, we need to continue to get better to try to contain the run game as much as possible, and eliminate explosive plays down the field. That’s one thing Tennessee State has. They have the ability to do both.”

- On Facing TSU’s Offense
“Their quarterback, running back, running back combination in the backfield is extremely dangerous. They’ve put up a ton of yards on some good football teams. Couple that with the dynamic wide receivers that they have on the outside – they’ve a very scary, scary offense. We’ve got our work cut out for us this week, but it’s something that we look forward too. We’re going to work hard to get better.”

Sophomore Offensive Lineman Jamahl Jelks
- On adjustments the team needs to make
“We just need to get back to practice and get the focus back. Get out there and do the things the coaches feel we need to work on. We just need to focus up” 

- On offensive line’s performance at UT Martin
“I feel like we played pretty solid last week. We missed a couple key blocks and a couple key assignments that we should have picked up on. We will just go back to practice, we’ll look at the film and we’ll get it right this week.”

- On status of the team
“I like where we are right now, but we can get a lot better. There is just so much we need to work on, but we will be there.”

Sophomore Safety Shakur Jackson
- On what changes to make moving forward
“On defense, we need to be locked in more on our responsibilities and tackle better. We just need to play hard on every play, like we have been doing.”

- On slow start at UT Martin
“I think we needed to get settled in after the first quarter. So we need to learn how start faster in the future. But once we settled in, we played good defense like we usually do.”

- On playing at home
“It’s going to be fun. I am very excited to go back home and play. The road kind of wares on you a bit.”

Senior Wide Receiver Patrick Smith
- On moving forward after a loss
“It is about us getting our focus back. We still have a lot to look forward to this season. We don’t plan on giving up after one loss. Anything can happen in conference play. We just need to go back to the drawing board and do the things we do best. We cannot blame anybody for our mistakes. We just have to come back more prepared.”

- On playing in front of a home crowd for the first time this season
“It’s going to be good for us to get back home. We have been going through some adversity with these four games on the road. Being back at home will help us feel comfortable and having the home crowd behind us should give us that extra boost. We’ll have that extra adrenalin before and during the game.”

Senior Cornerback Terrell Bonds
- On game at UT Martin
“We did not start out fast and that is something we have to do in the games moving forward. We tried to make a push, but we just did not pull it out. We will get back to the drawing board and be ready for EIU.”

- On goals for the team
“It is how we prepare during the week. We have to be better at preparation. That goes for practice and in the film room. That will help us be ready for Saturday. We have to play with confidence and trust each other. That’s how we will get over the top.”

- On playing road games
“Playing on the road is tough, especially in this conference. We went into a tough environment the other night and they played us well. UT Martin played a great game and they had a great scheme. That’s just part of the game. We just have to get back to work.”

- On playing at home
“It is the first game of the year; the John Merritt Classic. We are looking forward to a big crowd. We are coming off a loss, so we will have a lot of energy and enthusiasm. We are looking to come out fast and work to get a win.”