MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Southern Heritage Classic Player of the Game O’Shay Ackerman-Carter lifted the Tennessee State football team to a 40-26 victory over Jackson State at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday night. The victory helps TSU improve to 2-0 and drops Jackson State to 0-2.
Ackerman-Carter finished 14-for-18 for 227 yards and two passing touchdowns, while also recording his first career rushing touchdown. Defensively, Ebenezer Ogundeko posted a team-best 11 tackles with Ezra Robinson adding six tackles and an interception, which he returned for a touchdown.
TSU trailed Jackson State 23-19 at the half before outscoring JSU by a 21-3 margin in the second half to pull away.
Chris Rowland gave the Tigers great field position as he returned the opening kickoff 46 yards to the TSU 48. TSU was not able to take advantage going three and out setting up an Austin Rowley punt. The good start turned quickly into a score for Jackson State, as Kwame Bowens blocked the Rowley punt allowing Josh Miller the opportunity to scoop up the loose ball and scamper 40 yards for the first score of the game. [easyazon_infoblock align=”right” cart=”y” identifier=”B0170C4AKQ” locale=”US” tag=”hbcusports-20″]
The Tigers found themselves 13-0 just over five minutes into the contest as Dan Williams converted a diving catch into a 30-yard scoring play.
TSU would respond on the following series as they moved 81 yards on seven plays. Erick Evans would get the drive started with a nine yard carry setting up back-to-back passes from O’Shay Ackerman- Carter to Rowland for 13 and 11 yards, respectively, to move into Jackson State territory.
Ackerman-Carter continued the aerial assault by hitting Evans for 16 yards and connecting with Sabree Curtis for 21 yards, before finding Patrick Smith for six yards.
Evans capped off the drive with a five yard blast through the left side of the line to pull the Tigers to within seven points, 13-6.
After a failed onside kick attempt, JSU would start its next possession at the TSU 43. The defense would hold strong forcing a missed field goal attempt and getting the offense back on the field with 2:26 remaining in the first quarter.
TSU would go back to the air and needed just three plays to reach the end zone. After a modest two yard pass to Smith, Ackerman-Carter hit Steven Newbold down the right side for 49 yards to the JSU 13. The combo teamed up on the final play for the 13-yard scoring play as Newbold went over the defender and pulled down the pass with one hand off the defenders back to even the score at 13-13.
JSU regained the lead midway through the second stanza as Rowley mishandled a Thomas Newberg snap and was hit in the end zone as he tried to get the ball away. A scrum ensued and JSU came up with the loose ball for a touchdown and a 20-13 advantage.
The Tigers once again drove down the field in response to the JSU score. Early in the drive, Ackerman-Carter found Chris Sanders-McCollum for 18 yards on a key third-and-long situation. The Big Blue would get rolling again with a 13 yard run by Evans and a 12-yard pass from Ackerman-Carter to Newbold.
After the aid of pass interference, Evans got the Tigers back within one on a two-yard plunge. The extra point was blocked making the score 20-19 with 2:36 to go in the half.
The Tigers looked to get the ball back before halftime, but an off-sides call on a JSU punt attempt gave the visitors a fresh set of downs. JSU would take advantage of the new life and make its way down the field for a 38-yard field goal to increase the lead to 23-19 at the break.
JSU opened the second half the same way as they closed the first, adding a 37-yard field goal to take a seven point lead. At that point it became all Tennessee State as they went on to score 21 unanswered points.
The Big Blue relied on the legs of Evans who finished with 109 yards on 21 carries. The Dallas, Texas native opened the following drive with three runs for 29 yards putting the Tigers into JSU territory. At that point, Ackerman-Carter teamed up with Smith for a 28 yard pass play, before tying the game, 26-26, with a three yard pass to the redshirt-junior. The signal caller kept the play alive scrambling long enough to let Smith make his way back to an open area of the end zone.
Ezra Robinson wasted no time in putting the Tigers in front for the first time in the game with 4:15 to go in the third. The senior cornerback jumped a LaMontiez Ivy pass and returned it 25 yards to the house just eight seconds after TSU had tied the game.
Ackerman-Carter closed out the scoring and the Tigers from JSU with a one yard quarterback sneak early in the fourth quarter.
The Tigers are back in action on Sept. 17 for a road test at Bethune-Cookman.
Courtesy: TSU Athletics