The Tennessee State University Tigers opened both halves with a flurry as they secured a 35-25 win over the Jackson State University Tigers in the 26th Southern Heritage Classic. A crowd of 48,385 witnessed the fourth consecutive win for TSU over JSU at the Liberty Bowl, the largest crowd to watch the classic since 2008. TSU improved to 2-0 on the season as JSU fell to 0-2.
Tennessee State won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball first. TSU QB freshman sensation O’Shay Ackerman-Carter teamed up with Patrick Smith on a 64-yard scoring play on the second play from scrimmage giving the Tigers a 7-0 lead just 53 seconds into the game.
Jackson State responded with a 10 play, 75-yard drive, capped by a Robert Johnson 1-yard plunge into the end zone. JSU kicker Ryan Deising slipped while attempting the point after, resulting in a 7-6 score favoring TSU.
On TSU’s second possession, Ackerman-Carter found a hole in the JSU line and rushed for seven yards. The redshirt-quarterback was injured on the play and had to leave the field. Junior Ronald Butler entered the game, and on his first play hit Patrick Smith for 50 yards to the JSU 22. A touchdown run by Telvin Hooks on the next play gave the Tigers a 14-6 lead.
Ackerman-Carter returned and drove the offense downfield for a score with seven seconds remaining before halftime. The Jacksonville, Fla. native found a leaping Joshawn Bowens from 10 yards out to make the score 21-9 at the break.
In the second half, Patrick Smith received a punt in JSU territory and returned it 28 yards to the Tigers 15. Hooks carried three straight times, finishing with a two-yard scoring run. Ackerman-Carter connected on his third touchdown of the night when he hit junior wide out Chris Sanders-McCollum for a 64-yard touchdown for a 35-12 lead.
Patrick Smith was named the Southern Heritage Classic Most Valuable Player, and finished the night with 155 all-purpose yards. Ackerman-Carter completed 15 passes on 26 attempts for 250 yards and three touchdowns. The TSU running game totaled 110 yards on 32 carries. Hooks led the charge with 68 yards on 14 attempts, and two touchdowns. Tom Smith had 11 attempts for 41 yards.
“Our team showed a lot of grit,” said TSU Head Coach Rod Reed. “We got out to a fast start and we came into halftime and made some adjustments. We had a good third quarter, but in the fourth quarter, we got a little lackadaisical. We let them back in the football game, but I thought our kids showed a lot of character being able to close it out.”
The Tigers begin Ohio Valley Conference play at Jacksonville State on Saturday, Sept. 19 at 1:00 PM CDT. FAMU welcomes the Tigers to Tallahassee, Florida on Saturday, Sept. 26 at 5:00 pm CDT. The games will be broadcast live on WVOL 1470 AM radio.