NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Just eight days away from the Sept. 6 season opener versus Alabama State in the John Merritt Classic, the Tennessee State football team held its final scrimmage on Saturday at Hale Stadium. Redshirt freshman quarterback O’Shay Ackerman-Carter tossed four touchdown passes to headline the offense on the day.
“Our quarterbacks looked really sharp today,” said Rod Reed, who is in his sixth season as TSU’s head coach. “I thought O’Shay was really sharp throwing the football today. We have to do a better job in the run game, but that will come. This is a good chance for us to get in the film room this afternoon and correct some mistakes, and we’ll be ready to go.”
On a day that began with overcast and clouds and slowly became sunny and warm, the first team offense also heated up as the day went on. After a punt on the first drive and a field goal during the second possession, Ackerman-Carter led his side to four-consecutive touchdown drives to close the first half.
Redshirt senior Hakeem Parker was responsible for the first touchdown with a long reception down the right sideline. After a three-and-out on the other side, the Ackerman-Carter/Parker connection was again successful, this time for a 55-yard touchdown pass over the middle for a 17-0 advantage for the white team after the extra point.
A sustained drive was capped by Sterlin Leveque’s 11-yard touchdown reception before freshman tight end Mahlon Medley added another score on a catch over the middle just before the half for a 31-0 lead.
Early in the fourth quarter, junior quarterback Ronald Butler fired a strike to junior Dantwaun O’Neal on a 50-yard pass play for a touchdown, and redshirt freshman Deadrick Mayberry’s 16-yard touchdown run concluded the scoring at 45-0.
During the final scrimmage, the staff aimed to make different scenarios as close to a regular season game as possible.
“Today, we wanted to work on mechanics in all phases of the game: offense, defense and kicking game,” Reed said. “This was sort of our mock game. We had officials out here, and we did everything as we would do next Sunday. We were able to come out and get some kickoffs and kickoff returns, punts, run personnel on and off the field and be able to get a look at what we think we’re going to see next week against Alabama State.”
After countless practices and hours in the film room, Reed and his staff can now get into a normal game-week routine.
“It’s time for football.” Reed said. “Now we can focus strictly on Alabama State. Classes have started, so we’ve gotten those jitters out of the way. Our guys are getting used to our normal routine now, so I think it will be exciting for us this week.”
The Tigers will make their 2015 season debut on Sunday, Sept. 6, with the John Merritt Classic versus Alabama State. Kickoff at Nissan Stadium in Nashville is scheduled for 6 p.m.