NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A 19-yard touchdown by Telvin Hooks with 1:28 remaining proved to be the difference, as Tennessee State defeated Murray State on Senior Day, 17-10, on Saturday.
Hooks finished the game with 129 yards and tied his career high with 25 carries for an average of 5.2 yards.
The TSU (9-3, 6-2 OVC) defense held the Racers to 25 yards of total offense and -23 on the ground in the second half.
Daniel Fitzpatrick anchored the defense with eight stops (seven solo) and one tackle for loss.
The teams traded three-and-outs to begin the game, and TSU picked up its only first down of the first quarter when Ronald Butler hit Wesley Samuels with a 10-yard completion on a third down on its second possession. The gain couldn’t produce any Big Blue points, but punter Leon Holderhead pinned the Racers at their own six-yard line to start their next drive.
The long field did not intimidate Murray State (5-6, 3-4 OVC), as the squad marched 94 yards down the field in 11 plays and 3:39 for a touchdown. Racer quarterback Parks Frazier was 10-of-10 on the series for 88 yards including a two-yard touchdown to Pokey Harris at the 7:48 mark to take a, 7-0, lead.
After three more punts, Murray State got the ball back and a 30 yard strike from Frazier to Janwski Davis set up a 24-yard field goal by Murray’s Marc Wynstra to open up the second quarter.
Down by 10 points, TSU received the ball at its own 18-yard line on the ensuing drive. A 15-yard penalty on MSU gave the Big Blue offense better field possession but Butler was 0-for-3 on the drive and TSU had to punt again.
Murray State picked up a pair of first downs after the Tiger kick, but the offense eventually sputtered, giving TSU the ball with under 10 minutes to go before halftime.
Adam Davenport checked in at running back for the Tigers on their next series and the freshman picked up 12 yards on his first two carries. A TSU penalty gave the team a fourth and three even after Davenport’s touches. Head Coach Rod Reed faked the punt and Davenport scampered three yards for a TSU first down. The gamble did not pay off, as TSU punted for the fifth time of the half.
De’Ante Saunders picked off a Frazier pass to give TSU the ball in MSU territory, and the Tigers were finally able to get on the scoreboard. Four Davenport carries for 25 yards set up a 33-yard field goal by Jamin Godfrey to pull TSU within seven with 22 seconds before halftime.
The kick ended a half in which TSU was outgained 246 to 87.
Like the first half, the sides traded punts to open the second. On TSU’s second series, the offense picked up four first downs and 67 yards, the bulk of which came on a 14-yard completion to Joe Bowens. Godfrey came in to attempt a 34-yard field goal, but his attempt was blocked to leave the score 10-3 with 4:20 left in the period.
Neither side scored in the third stanza, but the Tigers finally found the end zone at the 9:49 mark of the fourth. A two-yard touchdown from Butler to Samuels in the back of the end zone off of play-action pass capped off a nine play, 67-yard drive. A 22-yard run by Telvin Hooks got the Tigers within striking distance.
Murray State failed to score on its next two possessions and gave the ball to TSU with 5:36 left in the game. The Tigers kept pounding the ball on the ground with plenty of success. Darion Hall had an 18-yard rush to force the Racers to start worrying about the clock. Four plays later, Hooks found the corner and ran 19 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:28 left.
The Tigers outrushed the Racers 241 to 24 and had the ball for over 17 minutes longer than MSU.
TSU’s victory over Murray State is its first since the 2007 season.
The Tigers will take a week off and await their fate. TSU will find out if it makes the playoffs on Sunday, Nov. 24.