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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.

Tennessee State put together a 15-play drive that took all the time off the clock and set up for a 42-yard field goal. Jamin Godfrey nailed the kick, but aA false start penalty moved the ball back five yards and he missed a 47-yard attempt and the game went into overtime

The Tigers’ kicking woes continued to haunt them in the extra period. They got the ball first, and Godfrey missed a 42-yard field goal try wide right. Tennessee State moved the ball to the 12-yard line on its first play, a 12-yard completion from German to A.C. Leonard, but Jacksonville State sacked German on each of the next three plays, forcing the errant field goal try.

Jacksonville State was content to play conservative on its first two downs and ran the ball. Greg Barksdale got a quarterback sack on third down and set up Thomas for the winning kick.

“We got the game where we wanted it and had a chance to win,’’ Reed said.  “We go tot cut down on our mistakes. When you play a good team and make mistakes, they’ll burn you. We got burned today. We got to clean up our mistakes.

Key Results
Arkansas-Pine Bluff 50, Southern 21: The Golden Lions solidified their hold on first place in the SWAC West Division and ruined the Jaguars’ homecoming in the process. The Golden Lions (5-2, 4-1) have a two-game lead on Southern (3-4, 2-3) and Prairie  View A&M (2-5, 2-3), their nearest pursuers in the West with four conference game remaining. The Golden Lions had their best offensive game of the season, rolling up 510 total yards. Quarterback Ben Anderson passed for a season-high 296. Wide receiver Ladarius Eckwood had three catches for 131 and a touchdown. The Golden Lions also rushed for 214 yards. Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s defense contributed to the scoring when linebacker Bill Ross returned an interception 60 yards for touchdown on Southern’s first possession of the game.
Jackson State 14, Miss. Valley State 7, 2OT: The Tigers continued their dominance against their in-state SWAC rival with a home victory. Jackson State (4-4, 4-2 SWAC) hasn’t lost to Mississippi Valley (2-5, 2-3 SWAC) since 1994. Quarterback Clayton Moore accounted for both Jackson State touchdowns. Moore scored the winning touchdown on a one-yard quarterback sneak. His nine-yard touchdown pass to Rico Richardson gave Jackson State a 7-0 lead in the third quarter. Mississippi Valley tied the score midway through the fourth period when quarterback Marcus Randle and Richard Drake connected on a 71-yard touchdown pass. The Tigers had a decided advantage in offensive production, outgaining the Delta Devils 328-204. However, they committed three turnovers.
Grambling State 22, Virginia University of Lynchburg 7: The G-Men, off to the worst start in school history, ended their six-game losing streak and won for the first time this season with a homecoming victory. Grambling (1-6) dominated the contest with its defense, limiting VUL (1-6) to 169 total yards.

Conference Results
CIAA
Elizabeth City State 47, Chowan 21
Johnson C. Smith 35, Shaw 20
Saint Augustine’s 34, Fayetteville State 28, 3OT
Virginia State 23, Lincoln (Pa.) 3
Virginia Union 37, Bowie State 13
Winston-Salem State 58, Livingstone 0

MEAC
Bethune-Cookman 48, Norfolk State
Delaware State 24, North Carolina A&T 0
Howard 21, Morgan State 20
North Carolina Central 37, Hampton 20
Savannah State 42, Edward Waters 35
South Carolina State 27, Florida A&M 20, OT

SIAC 
Albany State 36, Clark Atlanta 9
Benedict 39, Morehouse
Fort Valley State 35, Stillman 17
Miles 38, Lane 20
Tuskegee 37, Kentucky State 0

SWAC
Jackson State 14, Miss Valley State 7; 2OT
Prairie View A&M 52, Alcorn State 37

Other Results
Bacone 19, Texas College 6
Bloomsburg 27, Cheyney
Concordia-Selma 20, Southern Virginia 14
Fort Hayes 28, Lincoln (Mo.) 26
Shepherd 41, West Virginia State 20

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