After Drayton Johnson’s 65-yard return of the opening kickoff to the Norfolk State 28, TSU got on the board with a 37-yard James Lowery field goal four plays later that gave the Tigers an early 3-0 lead. Draylen Ellis’ 9-yard connection with Canen Adrian on their next possession put Tennessee State up 10-0.
The Tigers extended their lead to 17-0 when Daveon Bryant found Gerard Turner from 34 yards out, making it three consecutive scores on as many possessions for TSU. Norfolk State got on the board for the first time on the evening in the waning seconds of the first half when Otto Kuhns plunged in from 1 yard away on a quarterback sneak. The PAT was unsuccessful, leaving the score at 17-6 heading into halftime.
Norfolk State got on the board on their first possession of the second half, when Grandin Wilcox connected from 36 yards out to make the score 17-9, still in favor of the Tigers. That was the only scoring of the period.
Norfolk State marched 90 yards in 7 plays, getting in the end zone on another 1-yard run by Kuhns and tying the game at 17 on a successful 2-point conversion on a pass from Kuhns to X’Zavion Evans.
Tennessee State responded on their next offensive possession, with quarterback Draylen Ellis leading the Tigers on a 10-play, 75-yard drive capped on when Ellis himself took it in from 18 yards out to put the Tigers back in front 24-17.
Tennessee State ran the ball 45 times for 209 yards. The Tigers had three ball carriers Jordan Gant (85), Jalen Rouse (64), and Draylen Ellis (54), rush for at least 50 yards. TSU also held the ball for 31:52, as compared to 22:55 for Norfolk State.
The Tigers’ defense has held its last five opponents to 25 points or less, also the second consecutive week TSU did not allow 300 yards of total offense, surrendering just 279 to the Spartans. The defensive unit was also able to get three sacks and force a turnover on the evening. Linebacker Monroe Beard had ten tackles, marking his fifth consecutive game of 10 tackles or more.
Tennessee State is 4-2 for the first time since 2017. Next week, the Tigers will host Lincoln (CA). Norfolk State (2-4, 0-0) will look to bounce back as they begin MEAC play next week on the road against Howard.