NASHVILLE — Tennessee State used the arm and legs of quarterback Geremy Hickbottom to defeat Murray State, 27-21, in OVC play on Saturday. Hickbottom ran for three touchdowns and threw for another in the Homecoming win in front of 8,627 fans.
Both defenses took over in the first and second quarters. TSU could only muster one first down in the opening stanza while employing a bend but not break approach when their defense was on the field.
After Murray St. forced TSU into a three-and-out on its first drive, the Racer offense used an 11 play 41-yard drive to set up for a field goal from 33 yards, but Aaron Baum missed it wide right. Murray’s first drive in the second quarter was promising but ended on another Baum missed field goal. This time from 49 yards.
Neither team could sustain a drive until TSU took over on their own 15-yard line with 7:18 left in the half. The Tigers held the ball for 12 plays and went 85 yards in 3:28 to take a 7-0 lead. Hickbottom finished the drive off on an eight-yard run to paydirt. A key play on the drive was a 22-yard pass to tight end Josh Trueheart. On the last series before the end of the half, TSU defensive back Nick Harper was called for an unsportsmanlike penalty that would be assessed on the opening kickoff of the second half.
After a long halftime, Murray’s used the penalty to get good field position. Racer returner Damien Gomes returned the kickoff 19 yards to give his team the ball at the TSU 49. After Murray converted a first down, Tiger linebacker James Reese IV intercepted a DJ Williams pass to stop the drive. TSU took little time capitalizing on the turnover, going on a three play 67-yard drive to make it 14-0. The drive was capped off on a nifty 65-yard run by Hickbottom.
TSU’s inspired defense then forced Murray into a three and out. The Tiger offense got rolling again going 64 yards on five plays to go up 21-0. This time Hickbottom used his arm to complete the drive on a 24-yard pass to Trueheart. Trueheart celebrated with an ode to Halloween with his rendition of the Michael Jackson with a Thriller dance.
Murray wouldn’t go down quietly, as they climbed back into the game scoring the next 21 points to tie the game with 4:30 left in regulation. TSU took over at their own 38-yard line and went on an eight-play 62-yard drive to take the lead on Hickbottom’s third rushing touchdown, this time from seven yards out. Murray blocked the extra point by Antonio Zita to make the score 27-21.
Courtesy: Tennessee State Athletics