Tennessee State, No. 1 among HBCUs and No. 18 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) poll, fell from the unbeaten ranks in an overtime road loss to Jacksonville (Ala.) State on Saturday.
Tennessee State, No. 1 among HBCUs and No. 18 in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) poll, fell from the unbeaten ranks after several breakdowns in their kicking game doomed them to a 31-28 overtime road loss to Jacksonville (Ala.) State in an Ohio Valley Conference contest Saturday.
The Gamecocks (4-3, 3-2 OVC) emerged with the win Griffin Thomas kicked 44-yard field.
“I thought the kids fought hard,’’ Tennessee State coach Rod Reed said. “We knew it was going to be a dogfight. … It was just a good football game. It’s a shame somebody had to lose it.’’
Tennessee State (7-1, 3-1 OVC) got off to a shaky start when quarterback Michael German threw an interception on the Tigers’ third play from scrimmage. Jacksonville State quickly converted the turnover into a 7-0 advantage as running back Troymaine Pope scored on a two-yard run. German made amends for the miscue with a 19-yard.touchdown pass to Devin Wilson that tied the score at seven apiece.
The game see-sawed back forth from that, and neither was team able to take more than a seven-point lead. When either went ahead, the other quickly caught up. Trabis Ward’s 42-yard scoring run, his 14th touchdown of the season, gave Tennessee State a 21-14 lead at the half.
The run put Ward over the 1,000-yard mark for the season. He finished the game with 168 yards and has rushed for 1,070 yards this year, the sixth-highest single season total in school history. Ward is the fourth Tennessee State rusher to gain 1,000 yards in a season. He joins Charles Anthony, Javarris Williams and Darron Davis on that exclusive list.
The Tigers had an opportunity to build on their lead before the half ended, but they were unable to get their field goal team on the field in time to for a 37-yard attempt. That failure proved to be costly in the end.
Jacksonville State tied the score again, 21-all, on its first possession of the third quarter. The Gamecocks, who dominated time of possession in the third quarter, mounted a 12-play scoring drive that took 5:39 off the clock, and regained the lead, 28-21. Tennessee State pulled even when German connected with James on an 11-yard touchdown pass that tied the score 28-28. The Tigers came up with two third-down conversions to keep the drive alive.
Then the game turned sloppy as the teams combined to commit three turnovers in a 44-second span on their next three combined possessions.
Tennessee State dominated the fourth quarter, outgaining Jacksonville State by 109 yards and holding the ball for 10 minutes, 26 seconds. The Tigers were in position to kick a field goal that would have won the game on their last possession. Steven Godbolt III’s one-handed interception at their 26-yard line with 5:36 remaining regulation put the Tigers in business.