By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — The Tennessee State Tigers are now playing their best football of the season and hope to keep things rolling Saturday against Eastern Illinois. That will be their OVC home opener, and seventh game of the year. Things look much brighter in the wake of their second straight victory, a 30-14 romp over Tennessee Tech in Cookeville.

Head coach Eddie George had told fans his team would be much better once it got some of its top players back from injury. That’s proven the case as starting QB Draylen Ellis has been at the helm for consecutive big games by the offense. He’s provided consistency and stability, two things sorely lacking in the earlier games.He had a. pair of passing touchdowns and another rushing one against the Golden Eagles. It also gives the Tigers a head start in the annual in-state competition for the Alvin York trophy.

Their offense now also seems to have a new star at running back. Devon Starling was a preseason all-OVC pick, but injuries have limited him and now Jalen Rouse is the starter. Rouse gained 126 yards on 21 carries. But Starling also had his moments, among them a 36-yard reception and 27 yards on his first five carries.

TSU is now also featuring tight ends more prominently in the offense. Two of the Tigers’ three touchdowns were by tight ends. Benjamin Johnson II and Jytireus Smith got their first touchdowns of the season. Next Saturday’s opponent Eastern Illinois fell to 2-4 as they lost 37-34 to Lindenwood in overtime.