The Tennessee State Tigers traded blows with SEC opponent Vanderbilt for four quarters but ultimately came up short losing 31-27.
The Vanderbilt offense came out shaky turning the ball over twice in the first quarter via two interceptions from VU quarterback Kyle Shurmur. TSU was unable to take advantage of the first turnover, as Antonio Zita missed a 46-yard field goal attempt. The second interception by Dajour Nesbeth came as the Commodores were in the red zone and threatening to score. Nesbeth stepped in front of the Shurmur pass attempt and returned it 65 yards to the Vanderbilt 35 yard line. Six plays later, TSU would find the lead and the end zone when Demry Croft found Steven Newbold for a five-yard touchdown pass. The PAT gave Tennessee State a 7-0 lead. Vanderbilt would respond with a 7-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a Shurmur 4-yard touchdown pass to Jared Pinckney to tie the game at 7.
Tennessee State would reclaim the lead more than halfway through the second period when Croft connected with Treon Harris for a 31-yard touchdown pass. The extra point was missed, leaving the score 13-7. Vanderbilt would cut the lead to three right before the half with a Ryley Guay 20-yard field goal, making the score 13-10.
Vanderbilt took the lead early in the third quarter when a 7 play,76 yard drive culminated in a 38-yard touchdown pass from Shurmur to Kalija Lipscomb. The point after made the score 17-13. The Commodores extended their lead to 24-13 after Ke’Shawn Vaughn took it 78 yards to the house. Tennessee State responded with a 7 play, 73-yard drive ending in DeMarco Corbin’s touchdown run from 2 yards out. The extra point from Zita drew the Tigers to within 4 at 24-20 and that is the score the game would take into the final quarter.
TSU would retake the lead, marching 72 yards in 10 plays and getting into the endzone when Croft tossed his third score of the day, a 1 yard pass to Andrew Knox. The extra point put the Tigers up 27-24. That advantage did not hold up long, as the Commodores only needed 102 seconds and three plays to go 73 yards, the bulk of which came on a 68-yard touchdown pass from Shurmur to Kalija Lipscomb. The score put Vanderbilt up 31-27, which is how the game ended.
Even in defeat, TSU Head Coach Rod Reed was very happy with the effort his team showed in the game:
“I’m really proud of that team over there in that locker room right there. Once again they showed resilience, they showed toughness, and they showed a never quit attitude. We came out in the second half, and they scored and we were able to bounce back and come back and do some things. I was really proud of our football team. We did what we needed to do. We said we wanted to keep the game close coming into the fourth quarter and give ourselves the opportunity to win, and that’s exactly what we did.”
The loss is the first blemish on the Tigers’ record, as they fall to 2-1. They will head to Clarksville,Tennessee to take on Austin Peay. Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 6 p.m CST. Vanderbilt heads to Athens, Georgia to face no.2 Georgia.