The OVC’s 19 game losing streak in the FCS Playoffs came to an end Saturday afternoon as Tennessee State shut out the Pioneer League Champion Butler Bulldogs 31-0. The win is the Tigers first ever in the FCS Playoffs and improved them to 1-4 all-time in the playoffs.
The Tigers’ offense was jump started by the return of redshirt junior quarterback Michael German threw for 201 yards and two touchdowns in the win. German’s return covered up the Tigers’ rushing woes that normally would plague the offense. The Tigers defense came up huge with two Butler red zone trips resulting in zero points.
The presence of German was seen immediately in the offense as the Tigers opened the game with a 24 yard reception by Ryan Mitchell. Midway through the first quarter the scoring was opened by the Tigers who used a converted fourth down inside their own 30 yard line to score. After two 3rd down conversions, German found Mitchell from 25 yards out to grab the early 7-0 lead.
With momentum on their side, the Tigers drove the field once again but had to settle for a 45 yard field goal by kicker Jamin Godfey to extend the lead to 10-0.
Butler’s first opportunity to get back into the game came after a fumble by German that was scooped up in the red zone. With the Tigers backed up against their endzone a huge three and out was forced. The Bulldog’s misfortunes began as the easy 38 yard field goal clanked off the right upright and went no good.
Off the huge stop the Tigers drove the field, and German tossed his second touchdown of the game as he found tight end Wesley Samuels from 17 yard out for the 17-0 lead at the half.
The second half began sloppy for both teams but once again it was TSU making the plays. After an A.C. Leonard fumble once again gave Butler a short field in the red zone, a fourth down run by running back Trae Heeter was stuffed at the line. After a three and out, the Tigers defense decided to end the game as DB Daniel Fitzpatrick nabbed his 7th interception and took it back 26 yards for the touchdown.
Ronald Butler saw action with the game in hand and the freshman found Mitchell for a 21 yard touchdown to make it 31-0.
Tennessee State outgained Butler 415 to 257 yards with a 263-122 advantage through the air. The win did not come without some concerns however. The Tigers fumbled the ball three times and running back Telvin Hooks injured his right knee on a play to end the third quarter. Hooks is a key part to the dual running attack with Broughton as the redshirt sophomore rushed for nearly 700 yards this season.
The win for the Tigers now sets up a rematch with No. 2 Eastern Illinois at 1 p.m. next Saturday at O’Brien Field. It will be the first OVC playoff matchup since 1991 when Eastern Kentucky and Middle Tennessee matched up.