The Tennessee State Tigers hosted the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Saturday afternoon at Hale Stadium. The Tigers, coming off a loss to the Southeast Missouri State Redhawks, were trying to get back on the winning track. Unfortunately, the Gamecocks came into Hale Stadium and forced their will upon the Tigers, defeating them 41-14.
Clemson transfer Zerrick Cooper got the scoring going, leading the Gamecocks down the field in their opening drive and completing the drive with a touchdown pass to 6'7" wide receiver Jamari Hester. And although the extra point was missed, they got out to that fast start they were looking for.
The Tigers did not come out quite as fast as the Gamecocks did although they did complete one first down in their first drive. The initial drive would stall though and they would punt the football back to Jacksonville State, who would be led once again down the field by Jones. Instead of passing it to Hester this time for the touchdown, Cooper would complete the touchdown pass to his favorite target, Josh Pearson.
At that point, the 14 point first quarter deficit did not look good for the Tigers. Instead of them just allowing it to happen, they fought back early. The Tigers would take the next drive after going down 14-0 and provide some explosion of their own from running back Te'Kendrick Roberson. Roberson would take a handoff around the right corner 58 yards to paydirt, cutting the lead to 13-7. Unfortunately, that would be as close as the Tigers would get all game.
Cooper would throw another touchdown pass in the second quarter, giving him 178 yards passing and three touchdown passes in the first quarter. And as far as the Gamecocks defense, they were smothering quarterback Micheal Hughes and the Tennessee State offense. The Tigers would get one drive that would put them close to scoring before the half, but a sack taken by Micheal Hughes caused time to run out on that opportunity.
The Tigers would only score one more time in the game and that was in the second half. The Gamecocks would score two more times in the game, both coming off interceptions by Hughes in the fourth quarter that led to touchdowns.
As for the coach on the play of his team, he did have some good things to say about the defense in the second half: "Defensively in the second half, we finally decided to play a little football. I don't think they scored on our defense in the second half."
Coach Reed definitely did not seem please with the outcome of the game: "You cannot turn the football over on the number nine ranked team in the country (FCS level) and expect to play well."
With the loss, TSU falls to 3-5 on the season and 2-4 in the conference with the season finale coming up next week versus the UT-Martin Skyhawks.