TSU Tigers roar to a 3-0 start; Ackerman-Carter out for the season

PHOTO: Earl Harrison rushes for TSU against BCU  (photo by Sam Jordan / courtesy: tsutigers.com)

Earl Harrison rushes for TSU against BCU (photo by Sam Jordan / courtesy: tsutigers.com)

The Tennessee State University football Tigers completed a sweep of their HBCU opponents this season, and take a well-deserved off week after beating most of their non-conference adversaries for the 2016 campaign. October will bring new challenges for the Tigers with the four homecoming games, including a trip across town to take on SEC member Vanderbilt, their final non-OVC regular season opponent.

The Tigers secured a 31-24 victory at Bethune-Cookman University on a beautiful Saturday afternoon in Daytona Beach, Florida. Weather at the 4 pm EDT kickoff was 86 degrees and sunny. The Tigers were called for 15 penalties for close to 150 yards and committed three turnovers, but emerged victorious.

TSU sealed the victory when cornerback Terrell Bonds pulled down a tipped ball by Gabe Scott with just over two minutes remaining. The interception was the second of the game for Bonds, giving the Tigers the win and dropping the homestanding Wildcats to 0-2 on the season. TSU moved to 3-0 for the first time since 2012 and the second time under Head Coach Rod Reed. TSU improves to 8-1 versus MEAC teams under Rod Reed, and the Tigers are now 7-2 all-time versus Bethune-Cookman. They are also 2-0 versus SWAC teams this season (Prairie View and Jackson State).

“That’s my first game in my career with two picks but I’m just happy we came through,” Bonds said after the game. “We fought tough, battled back and got a win.” But it was a costly win.

TSU starting QB O’Shay Ackerman-Carter connected on a 71-yard touchdown pass to Steven Newbold and finished with 112 yards as he completed three passes in seven attempts. The redshirt-sophomore quarterback left the game in the second quarter due to an undisclosed injury and did not return. Senior QB Ronald Butler finished the game for the Big Blue completing 8-of-16 for 68 yards and two touchdowns in relief. Both signal callers tossed one interception each in the contest.

“I had to do what I had to do to step up and help my team win today,” said Butler after the game.

The Tigers rushed 44 times for 200 yards, with freshman Earl Harrison leading the way with 110 yards on 13 carries. “I got in and I was ready,” said the Memphis native, who had a 46 yard run for a second quarter touchdown.

TSU has this weekend off before starting Ohio Valley Conference play. UT Martin is the first challenge for the Tigers at 2 p.m.on Saturday, Oct. 1 at William Jasper Hale Stadium on the TSU campus. TSU plays Eastern Illinois Oct. 8 at 6 pm in Charleston, Ill. TSU Homecoming in Nissan Stadium Oct. 15 is at 6 p.m. against Eastern Kentucky. Oct. 22 the Tigers visit Vanderbilt for their Homecoming (time to be determined by TV). Oct. 29 at 3 p.m the Tigers visit Murray State for .their Homecoming game in Murray, Ky. Follow the Tigers live on FM 102.1 The Light.

Ackerman-Carter out for the season

TSU quarterback O’Shay Ackerman-Carter suffered a lower extremity injury and will miss the remainder of the season. Ackerman-Carter was trying to run out of bounds after avoiding a pass rush and went down near the Wildcats sideline in Daytona Beach on Saturday. The redshirt-sophomore completed 35-of-57 passes this season for 598 yards, with five touchdowns and two interceptions. Ackerman-Carter led the Tigers in all passing categories after starting and playing in seven games in 2015. TSU and Ackerman-Carter will seek a medical hardship through the NCAA.

The Big Blue are in the capable hands of senior QB Ronald Butler, who has played in 28 games during his career. Butler has connecting on 248-of-446 pass attempts for 2,656 yards, with 24 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.

Redshirt-freshman Michael Hughes moves to number two behind Butler. Hughes led Hillsboro High School to a 14-1 record and the Tennessee Class 5A State Championship Game in 2014.