The Tennessee State Tigers celebrated homecoming in grand fashion as they took down the Skyhawks of UT-Martin in dramatic fashion 35-30. The Tigers were led by a couple of players with career games as Trabis Ward poured in 166 yards on 25 carries and Travis James had 152 yards receiving and 2 TD. The Tigers started off sluggish in the first half as their offense seemed stuck in first gear and UT-Martin’s rushing attack bulldozed the Tigers defense. The Skyhawks held a 17-0 lead after the first quarter but things quickly changed in the second. QB Michael Germain and the TSU offense finally came to life as Germain found James for a quick 4-yard pass with 8 minutes and 30 seconds left in the 2nd. Germain would hook up with Wesley Samuels with 1 second left before halftime for another TD pass that put the Tigers within 3 as they went into halftime down 17-14.
The Second half had an interesting beginning as Head Coach Rod Reed had a Sean Payton Super Bowl moment and the Tigers kicked an onside kick. It appeared at first that the Tigers would get a huge momentum swing as it was recovered by TSU, only to have it reviewed and overturned. The Tigers defense bailed out the coaches decision as they forced the Skyhawks to punt. It was at this point that the Tigers offense exploded. First it was Trabis Ward as he made it known to the defense that he would finish strong. He rushed for 47 yards on the second half’s opening drive which led to a TSU TD that put them ahead 21-17. After a short drive by UT-Martin that resulted in a punt, TSU would get the ball back in nice field position. Next up was the Germain and James connection as Germain found his wideout streaking up the sidelines for a 77-yard TD pass. TSU’s latest score put them up 28-17 going into the 4th.
Big blue kept the offensive onslaught going in the 4th as Tigers offensive line and RB Ward continued to pound the Skyhawk defense. TSU went to the ground on their second possession in the 4th and as Ward asserted himself with an 11, 28, 14, and finally 2-yard TD run. That would put the Tigers up 35-24.
Skyhawks QB Derek Carr would keep them in the game as he drove Martin down the field on the very next series and led the Skyhawks on a 6 play 69 yard scoring drive. Martin would go for the 2-pt conversion but to no avail as Skyhawks RB McNair was stuffed at the goal line. That made the game 35-30. That set the stage would a miracle onside kick as the Skyhawks recovered on the play and gave them a chance to steal the game. QB Derek Carr would complete his first two passes to Quentin Sims for 16 yards but wouldn’t complete another. The Skyhawks QB couldn’t connect with Sims a third time as his pass went incomplete on 4th down to seal the victory and give the Tigers a share of the Sgt. York trophy. The Tigers gave the announced attendance of 19,537 reasons to cheer on the home school’s homecoming. The Aristocrat of bands rocked the house as always and put together a spectacular halftime show. The win moves TSU to 5-5 and 4-3 in OVC play. Tennessee State plays their last game next week against Jacksonville State at LP field, so make sure to come out and help lead the Tigers to victory in their last regular season game.