Football Time in Tennessee!

Clinton Gray, Jr. Chairman of John Merritt Classic and Teresa Phillips Tennessee State University Athletic Director at the “Big John” John Ayers Merritt Plaza Marker

It’s August and that means that football is back in the spotlight. High schools have been playing, colleges teams are about to take the field, and the pros are in their preseason of evaluation in preparation for the regular season to begin in September. Let’s take a look at a few Nashville teams, our two pro teams and a favorite college team.

Titans Preseason
The Tennessee Titans played their second preseason game at Nissan Stadium. on Saturday, August 17. It was the first home game for new head coach Mike Vrabel, who received a raucous ovation when introduced to the first home crowd of the year. Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota played just two series, and finished the night 4-of-7 for 80 yards and a touchdown, with a passer rating of 136.9. He has played three drives this season, including one during Week One at Green Bay, where Mariota completed 2-of-3 passes for 42 yards and a touchdown, finishing with a passer rating of 149.3.

On our team’s first series Saturday night the drive stalled after one first down, which came on a run from Derrick Henry. Next possession, Mariota engineered the six-play, 75-yard drive capped off with a 47-yard touchdown pass to speedy receiver Taywan Taylor that gave the Titans a 7-3 lead through the end of the first quarter.

“The first drive didn’t really go the way we wanted, but to be able to get a touchdown on the second drive was huge,” Mariota said. “And I thought Taywan made a huge play for that.” Taylor caught two touchdown passes, including a three-yarder from Blaine Gabbert in the second half.

In the second quarter, facing Titans reserves, Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston cut loose, throwing for 226 yards and two touchdowns as Tampa Bay took the lead for good at 20-7. Taylor’s second touchdown cut the lead to 20-14 in the third quarter. The Buccaneers led 23-14 before Ryan Griffin’s touchdown pass to Sergio Bailey in the fourth quarter made it 30-14.

The Titans face the Steelers in Pittsburgh Saturday, August 25 at 3pm CDT, and close out the preseason at 7 pm CDT Thursday, August 30 against the Minnesota Vikings in Nissan Stadium. Watch both games live on Nashville’s WKRN Channel 2.

TSU Tigers John Merritt Classic
The Tennessee State University Tigers host the Bethune Cookman University Wildcats in the 20th Annual John Merritt Classic on Saturday, September 1 at 6pm. A full weekend of activities includes a Classic VIP Reception Thursday. On Friday, August 31, a Classic Pep Rally at 12 Noon (free); a Classic Happy Hour at Limelight; a Classic Fashion Show Presented by Diavonnti Model Management in Kean Hall at 7pm (free); and the 9th Back to the Park Mixer in Cumberland Park.

Saturday the Classic Tailgate starts at Nissan Stadium at 8am. At 2pm, the TSUAA Tent opens; at 3pm, the Tiger Walk; at 4pm, the Showcase of High School Bands, Nissan Stadium Parking Lot S (Free); at 6pm the John Merritt Classic Game kicks off at Nissan Stadium with 2018 Honoree Clinton Gray Sr. At Halftime don’t miss the TSU Aristocrat of Bands vs.the BCU Marching Wildcats. Sunday, September 2nd at 2pm, the “After Brunch” Day Party at WKND Hang Suite is followed at 5pm by the Old School BBQ Festival in Public Square Park.

Nashville Knights
The Nashville franchise of the Legends Football League, our Nashville Knights (4-0), the no. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, face the Chicago Bliss (4-0) at Toyota Park on Saturday, August 25th. Tickets (starting at $15) get you into both games, beginning with the Western Conference championship game between the Austin Acoustic and the Los Angeles Temptation at 5pm, and the Eastern Conference at 7. If you can’t attend, watch the game on the LFL You Tube channel the following week. The two conference champs meet on Saturday, September 8 in Austin for the Legends Cup Championship.