By Ron Wynn
The Tennessee State University Tigers season took another hit Saturday as a late rally against Tennessee Tech fell short. TSU lost its fourth game in five tries 30-26 against the Golden Eagles in Cookeville. Tennessee Tech entered the game winless in both Ohio Valley Conference contests and overall, but they jumped on top of the Tigers quickly 10-0, built a lead, then held on at the end.
Some familiar problems resurfaced for the Tigers. Despite a spectacular game from wide receiver Patrick Smith (three touchdown receptions) the Tigers passing game failed in the most critical moments. Tigers QB Michael Hughes had two interceptions in the final two minutes, including one that prevented the go-ahead touchdown. Both were by safety Clay Davis.
TSU also had 11 penalties for 104 yards, and never got their rushing game in gear. They matched a season low in that area, as Tiger running backs collectively gained 83 yards in 30 carries, and all of that came early. Over the final three quarters they gained -10 yards rushing, forcing Hughes to constantly be in passing situations.
That in turn allowed Tech rushers to disregard the run and come hard after Hughes. Tech also had four sacks to only one for the Tigers. TSU is now tied with Tennessee Tech in the OVC at 1-4 (4-4 overall). Their next game is Saturday against Virginia University of Lynchburg on campus at the Hole.