The Tennessee State University football team completed a tremendously successful season on Dec. 7 at Eastern Illinois University in the second round of the NCAA Division I Football Playoffs. Tennessee State finished the season with a 10-4 record in its first ever 14-game season. The Tigers finished first in the final SBN Sports network/Sheridan Black College Football Poll, beating out Bethune-Cookman (10-3) and two-time defending champion Winston-Salem State (10-2). Tennessee State now has 12 Black College Football Championships, second all-time behind Grambling, as reported by the SBN Sports Network.
The Tigers had won 31-0 in the first round of the tournament the prior weekend in Indianapolis against Butler University, but could not overcome a 37-point halftime deficit in Charleston, and succumbed 51-10 to the Panthers. There were 4,825 in attendance, most of whom left the stadium following halftime, when the TSU Aristocrat of Bands performed to the delight of all.
Eastern Illinois’s 51 points were the most by a TSU opponent since Murray State scored the same total on Nov. 9, 2002. The Tigers had 287 yards of total offense and redshirt junior quarterback Mike German went 25-of-38 for 242 yards with no interceptions. EIU senior quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo completed 17-of-26 passing for 240 yards, three touchdowns and one INT.
The Panthers scored first on the ground from three-yards out. TSU was driving on its first possession, but German fumbled the snap at the EIU 44-yard line and the Panthers recovered. EIU kicked a 25-yard field goal and led 10-0 with eight minutes left in the first period. EIU’s Garoppolo completed a 20-yard touchdown. The extra point attempt hit the upright, but EIU still led 16-0 at the 4:41 mark. EIU added another touchdown with 10 minutes to go before halftime, returned a blocked punt for another score with two minutes to play and ended the half with a 4-yard passing touchdown, making the score 37-0 at halftime.
The Panthers scored another touchdown to start the third quarter. TSU finally got on the scoreboard with a seven-yard rushing touchdown by Tim Broughton on its second possession of the half. Broughton’s run capped an 11-play, 63-yard drive in which German was 5-of-5 for 57 yards. The Big Blue touchdown made the score 44-7 with 7:28 to go in the third quarter. German engineered a 74-yard drive that culminated in a 42-yard field goal by Jamin Godfrey. Ryan Mitchell had two 20-yard receptions to key the scoring series, and finished the day with six catches for 76 yards. The Panthers answered with an 80-yard touchdown run by Little to make the score 51-10 with 9:46 to play, the final points of the game.
Andrew Taylor led the TSU defense with a career-high 11 tackles and recorded the team’s only sack of the game. De’Ante Saunders also had an interception in the second quarter, but TSU gave the ball back via a fumble two plays later.
The Tigers ranked at #2 in the final Boxtorow Polls, just narrowly behind #1 Bethune Cookman University, who beat the Tigers 12-9 in LP Field on Sept. 1.
This Sunday, December 15, the TSU men’s and women’s basketball teams host a doubleheader at Gentry Center. The women face Martin Methodist at 2:30 pm, and the men face archrival Fisk University at 4:30 pm.
Southern wins SWACChampionship
Southern University (9-4) won its third Southwestern Athletic Conference championship with a 34-27 double overtime victory over Jackson State on Dec. 7 in the 2013 Toyota SWAC Football Championship inside Reliant Stadium in front of a crowd of 38,985. TSU beat Jackson State 26-16 with 42,400 in attendance on Sept. 14 in Memphis.