TSU beats FAMU in Tampa Classic and gears up for John Merritt Classic

Sophomore running back Sabree Curtis, Jr. carries for TSU. (Photo by Sam Jordan - TSU Athletics)

Sophomore running back Sabree Curtis, Jr. carries for TSU. (Photo by Sam Jordan – TSU Athletics)

Steady offense and another strong performance by the defense lifted the Tennessee State University Tigers (3-0) to a 24-13 football victory over the Florida A&M University Rattlers (1-2) on Saturday night in the FAMU Tampa Classic. The attendance was only 17,102 in the huge Raymond James Stadium, likely due to travel obstacles and life disruptions for fans caused by hurricanes Harvey and (especially) Irma.

The Tigers held a 10-6 edge over the Rattlers at halftime before outscoring FAMU 14-7 in the second half. TSU Quarterback Treon Harris threw touchdown passes to Steven Newbold and Patrick Smith, while sophomore running back Seth Rowland added another touchdown on the ground for the Tigers. Newbold was named MVP for TSU in the game.

Harris and teammate Lane Clark received Adidas Ohio Valley Conference honors for their performance in the Classic: Harris as Newcomer of the week, and Clark as Specialist of the Week. The award is the first for Harris, and the first of the season and the third of his career for Clark.

Harris recorded his best passing performance so far as a Tiger, completing 14-of-18 for 211 yards and two touchdowns in just three quarters; he averaged 4.6 yards per carry rushing for 37 yards on eight carries. Clark went 3-for-3 in extra points. His 49-yard field goal (his only attempt) was the ninth longest in TSU history, and he now owns seven of the top 10 distances in school history.

The Black College Football Hall of Fame (BCFHOF) announced Saturday their 2017 Watch List for the Black College Football Player of the Year Award, presented annually to the most outstanding football player from an Historically Black College & University. Senior DL Ebenezer Ogundeko and Senior WR Patrick Smith from Tennessee State are among the 50 players from 27 different HBCUs.

At press time the Tigers were ranked #20 in the offical NCAA FCS Coaches Poll and #22 in the STATS FCS Top 25, one of only two OVC schools in the Top 25. The Tigers open conference play at UT Martin on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 4 p.m. Tune in to 102.1 FM – THE VILLE and keep up with the #TSU #Tigers. Listen online at http://www.1021theville.com/

The Tigers host the Panthers of Eastern Illinois University in this year’s John Ayers Merritt Classic, with kickoff set for 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Nissan Stadium. ESPN3 will carry the action, along with 102.1 The Ville FM radio. This OVC game also serves as Kids’ Day, and students through high school — with school ID — will be admitted free to the game. There will also be a high school battle of the bands at Nissan Stadium earlier in the day. Learn more about the Classic at: http://www.merrittclassic.com

JOHN MERRITT CLASSIC FUN FACT

Seattle Seahawks sensational quarterback Russell Wilson has roots in Nashville. Two of his grandparents were on faculty at TSU back in the 1970’s, his fraternal grandfather Harrison B. Wilson, Jr. and the elder Wilson’s second wife, Lucy. His Dad’s dad (Harrison B. Wilson, Jr.)’s mom Marguerite Ayers and legendary TSU head football coach ‘Big’ John Ayers Merritt’s mom Grace Ayers were sisters. After the elder Wilson left TSU, as President of Norfolk State University for 22 years, he led that school into prominence. Russell’s father played football and baseball at Dartmouth and was a wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers preseason squad in 1980. Russell Wilson will lead the Seahawks against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium this Sunday, September 24, six days before his cousin (grand uncle?)’s classic there.