Tennessee State jumped out to a quick lead, but was not able to hold on against UT Martin in a key Ohio Valley Conference contest. The Skyhawks rebounded from a 14-0 deficit to claim a 28-14 victory in front of 7,123 fans as UTM celebrated their homecoming on Saturday, Oct. 10. TSU will host OVC rival Eastern Illinois for TSU Homecoming at Nissan Stadium Saturday, Oct. 17 at 6:00 p.m.
TSU (3-2, 0-2) outgained UTM (3-2, 2-1) in the first quarter 130-53, only to be outgained 360-290 on the day. Tiger QB O’Shay Ackerman-Carter returned to the lineup after sitting out the Florida A&M game with an injury and finished 14-of-24 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Ackerman-Carter left the game late in the second quarter due to injury, and eventually returned in the fourth.
Ronald Butler entered in place of Ackerman-Carter completing two of five for 19 yards. Butler was effective for TSU on the ground rushing for 36 yards on three carries, including a 30-yard scamper. The run was the longest of his career.
The Tigers struck big on its second possession of the game. On a third-and-three from their own 45, Ackerman-Carter found Chris Sanders-McCollum down the right sideline for 40-yards to the UTM 15 yard line. Two plays later, Tom Smith received a seal-off block from right guard Kevin Kenton allowing him to cut back for a nine yard scoring run. The senior running back’s second touchdown of the season gave TSU an early 7-0 advantage with 9:35 on the clock.
Ackerman-Carter struck again six minutes later as he teamed up with Patrick Smith to find the end zone on a 33-yard pass play. The scoring play gave the Tigers a 14-0 lead with 3:32 remaining in the first quarter.
UTM did get its offense going and evened the score at halftime, 14-14. The Aristocrat of Bands did not make the trip, and the Skyhawk band entertained the crowd with a Star Wars medley in tribute to the highly anticipated upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
UTM held the ball for the first 7:42 of the third quarter and took a 21-14 lead, capping a 66 yard,14 play drive with a 2-yard Trent Garland rushing TD. Tiger LB Chris Collins intercepted Skyhawk QB Jarod Neal at the UTM 46 with 1:45 remaining in the third quarter. The Tigers’ drive stalled and they had to punt the ball back to the Skyhawks.
UTM added a 24-yard touchdown pass with 5:36 remaining in the game. The Tigers received the ball two more times before the end of the game, but were not able to get any closer than the final score, 28-14.
“I think this is a learning experience for us as a team and as a staff,” said TSU Head Coach Rod Reed. “We’ll go back to the drawing board, and we’ll find a way to figure this thing out and be ready for Eastern Illinois.”