Tigers defang Rattlers again

The Tigers of Tennessee State University went down to Tallahassee on a mission. After suffering a road defeat against the top team in the nation in FCS their previous outing, the TSU football team wanted a victory bad, and long-time rival Florida A&M University was their target. On Saturday night, September 26, TSU improved their record to 3-1 with a 30-14 win over the FAMU Rattlers (0-4) with 18,020 witnesses at Bragg Memorial Stadium on the FAMU campus.

FAMU electrified their home fans when former Jefferson County prep star Devondrick Nealy took a TSU punt and scorched the far sideline for an 83-yard TD return and a 7-0 lead with 11:03 left in the half. TSU evened the count at 7-7 before halftime when Tallahassee native Ronald Butler tossed a 12-yard scoring strike to Mahlon Medley. The Rattlers held a 14-7 lead early in the third period on a 46-yard pass from Carson Royal to Kareem Smith with 12:05 left. The Rattlers 14-7 third quarter lead faded when Butler hit Patrick Smith with a 38-yard scoring toss for a 14-14 tie with 4:54 left.

Things continued to go the Tigers’ way when Jason Morrow tackled running back Devondrick Nealy in the end zone for a safety, and a 16-14 TSU lead with 44 seconds left in the third. Ronald Butler tossed his third scoring pass of the game early in the fourth period, capping a 68-yard drive with a 32-yarder to Patrick Smith for a 23-14 edge with 13:32 left in the game. TSU closed out the game with a 13-play, 80-yard drive, capped by Erick Evans’ one-yard run with 31 seconds left.

Tallahassee native Ronald Butler finished his homecoming with 194 yards on 16 completions and 33 attempts; he threw for three touchdowns. Telvin Hooks carried the ball 13 times on the night for 117 yards, as the Tigers outgained FAMU 370 to 201 total yards. Smith led all receivers in the game with seven catches for 109 yards and two TDs.

“It’s always good to come home,” said TSU Junior Quarterback Ronald Butler. “You see your family and friends and they get to see you play. It was a good win. We took a big defeat last week so we had to bounce back as a team and just get this ‘W’ to give us some confidence going into next week, which is our bye week.”

TSU has won five in a row in the series with the Rattlers, and now leads the all-time series with Florida A&M, 29-25. The Tigers will enjoy an off week before traveling to face UT Martin at 2;30 pm on October 10. The game will be the first in the Alvin York Trophy series. Watch it live on the American Sports Network; in Nashville that’s My30 WUXP; check your local listings. The Tigers host Eastern Illinois for Homecoming at 6:00 pm on Saturday, October 17. Listen in live every game on WVOL AM 1470.