The Tennessee State University Tigers are primed and ready to defend their home turf for Homecoming 2013. After a close season-opening loss to powerhouse Bethune Cookman University, the TSU Tigers have since then won every game this season—reeling off seven consecutive victories. A stout defensive effort from the nation’s No. 1 ranked unit helped TSU defeat UT Martin 29-15 on Saturday, Oct. 19. The Tigers (7-1, 4-0 OVC) only allowed 4.1 yards per play, recording 12 tackles for loss including five sacks, tallying two takeaways and forcing 19 Skyhawk penalties.
Freshman quarterback Ronald Butler led the offense, completing 11-of-19 for 160 yards and one touchdown. Junior wide receiver Ryan Mitchell caught five passes for 84 yards including a 51-yard touchdown reception late in the first quarter to open the scoring.
UT Martin (4-3, 2-2 OVC) tried a 40-yard field goal attempt early in the second quarter, but TSU’s Anthony Bass blocked the attempt and De’Ante Saunders returned the ball 54 yards for a Tiger touchdown to put TSU up 14-0.
The Tigers struck again two plays later when Daniel Fitzpatrick picked off UTM QB Jarod Neal at the 20-yard line and waltzed into the end zone untouched for TSU’s third touchdown of the game. The interception was Fitzpatrick’s fifth this season and fourth in TSU’s last three games, and he is now the FCS leader in interceptions. For the second week in a row, TSU junior safety Daniel Fitzpatrick was honored as the OVC defensive player of the week.
On UTM’s next offensive possession, Anthony Bass and Detorrius Shipley wrapped up Skyhawk running back D.J. McNeil in the end zone for a safety. The score was TSU’s 23-0 at halftime, as the Tiger defense had eight tackles for loss in the first half, three of which were quarterback sacks. UT Martin put together a 10-play, 49-yard scoring drive, as Neal found Jeremy Butler on a fade route from 11-yards away to make the score, 23-7 early in the second half. A 44-yard field goal from Jamin Godfrey put TSU up 26-7 with under four minutes to play in the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, Butler engineered an 11-play, 82-yard drive highlighted by a 23-yard run from Broughton to set up a field goal attempt. Godfrey’s kick was deflected, but still scored for a 20-yard field goal to put the Big Blue in front at 29-7.
The Skyhawks added a late touchdown by running back Trent Garland from two-yards out with 1:33 left in the contest. Garland added a two-point conversion to make the final score 29-15.
Tennessee State hosts ranked Eastern Illinois for homecoming to go for an eighth straight win on Oct. 26. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 pm at LP Field.