Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (1-1, 0-0 OVC) at #20 Tennessee State Tigers (2-1, 0-0 OVC)
Saturday, Sept. 20 • 2:00 p.m. CT
Hale Stadium (15,000) • Nashville, Tenn.
TV: OVC Digital Network
Series Record: Tennessee State leads 17-10
Last Meeting: Tennessee State won 41-21 (9/21/13)
Tennessee Tech Last Week: Idle
Tennessee State Last Week: W, 35-7 vs. Jackson State (in Memphis)
After an open date Tennessee Tech will travel to Tennessee State to open OVC play against nationally-ranked Tennessee State. The game is the first of the 2014 Sgt. York Trophy series presented by Delta Dental. The series is contested between the four football-playing schools from the state of Tennessee; TSU has won the trophy each of the past three years (although TTU shared the title with them in 2011 but lost a tiebreaker to bring home the actual hardware). Saturday’s game is the 28th all-time meeting between the two teams; Tennessee State has won the last three and eight of the last 10 in the all-time series.
Last year the Tigers led 17-7 at halftime on its way to a 41-21 victory in Cookeville. Michael German passed for 204 yards and three touchdowns for TSU while Tim Broughton added 86 yards on the ground. TTU quarterbacks Darian Stone and Jared Davis combined for 165 passing yards and a score. Saturday’s game is the first of three this season at Hale Stadium on the TSU campus.
Tennessee Tech is coming off an open date that followed its road loss at Indiana State on Sept. 6. In that contest the Golden Eagles fell behind 28-0 before scoring on back-to-back special teams plays in the third quarter. The first score came when Jordan Patrick blocked a punt which he recovered for a touchdown. Less than two minutes later Ladarius Vanlier returned a punt 72 yards for a touchdown to trim the Sycamore advantage in half. Vanlier would be named OVC Specialist of the Week for his play in the contest; Vanlier finished the day with 200 all-purpose yards (his second career 200-plus yard all-purpose game), gaining 112 yards on kickoffs, 74 yards on punts, nine rushing yards and five receiving yards. The junior currently ranks first in the OVC and 11th nationally in all-purpose yards (178.5/game) and is sixth in punt returns (20.4 yards/return). Darian Stone, playing the new QW hybrid position, had 37 rushing yards against ISU and is the team’s leading rusher (79 yards) through two games.
After a six-point road loss to Alabama State in Week 2 of the season, Tennessee State rebounded with a 35-7 victory over rival Jackson State in the 25th annual Southern Heritage Classic played in front of 46,914 fans at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. The TSU defense continued to play stout, allowing just 138 yards of total offense on the night, including -1 net rushing yards on 26 total attempts.
Tennessee State is currently first nationally in third down conversion defense (14.3%) and fourth down conversion defense (0.0%), second in turnovers gained (9), passes intercepted (6) and pass efficiency defense (68.84), fourth in total defense (221.0 yards/game), sixth in sacks/game (4.0) and tackles-for-loss (10.0/game), seventh in pass defense (126.3 yards/game) and 10th in scoring offense (38.0 points/game). Individually reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Bass is fifth in tackles-for-loss (2.8/game) and sixth in sacks (1.67/game). Senior De’Ante Saunders was named OVC Defensive Player of the Week after picking off two Jackson State passes including returning one 45 yards for a touchdown. Saunders currently ranks first nationally in interceptions (1.0) and 11th in passes defended (1.7/game).
Offensively newcomer Tom Smith scored two touchdowns against JSU to increase his season total to six (the second-most nationally). Starting quarterback Michael German left the game with an injury but is expected back this week; in his place Ronald Butler passed for 125 yards and a touchdown.