Tigers Tame Wildcats 21-14
By Dan Ryan
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - A big early deficit and giving up a special teams touchdown were too much for Bethune-Cookman to overcome Saturday as Tennessee State downed the Wildcats, 21-14 before a Municipal Stadium crowd of 9,461 on Hall Of Fame weekend.
TSU's Trabis Ward had 154 yards rushing and two early touchdowns, and Daniel Fitzpatrick's 40-yard blocked field goal return gave the Tigers (4-0) a 21-0 second quarter lead.
Bethune-Cookman (2-2) scored 14 points in the final 1:03 of the opening half to make it a ball game again, but the two defenses played to a second half scoreless stalemate.
This was the third time this season the Wildcats have fallen behind by at least two scores -- and the second consecutive week an opponent has scored a momentum-changing special teams touchdown.
"Once again, we did not executive. We did not follow through and we did not finish," said B-CU Head Coach Brian Jenkins. "I have to step back and evaluate a lot of things, beginning with myself. One thing I don't want to do is take anything away from Tennessee State. My hat's off to [Head Coach] Rod Reed and his staff and players for a job well done. They were the better team today."
B-CU was inside the TSU 30-yard line on multiple occasions and scored just once.
LeBrandon Richardson then put B-CU within one score when he scooped up a TSU lateral and returned it 47 yards for a touchdown to make it a 21-14 game.
After a short TSU punt, B-CU got to the Tigers 14-yard line in the third quarter on the strength of a 15-yard Isidore Jackson run, but the drive stalled on fourth down.
The Wildcats couldn't produce a potential scoring drive in the fourth. In the first quarter, the Tigers used an 80-yard catch-and-run from Michael German to A.C. Leonard to set up Ward's first score.
Richardson gave B-CU an early scoring threat when he recovered a fumble on the Tigers 33, but Sven Hurd's 32-yard field goal missed wide right.
Ward gave TSU a 14-0 lead with 9:39 in the second quarter with a six-yard run.
Later in the half, D.J. Howard's interception and 30 yards of TSU penalties put B-CU at the Tigers 18, but Antonio Harper blocked Hurd's attempt, and Fitzpatrick picked up the loose ball running for the touchdown.
Williams was 9-of-17 for 79 yards for B-CU. Jackson rushed for 65 yards on 16 carries and also caught four passes for 17. Jarkevis Fields had a career-high 14 tackles for the Wildcats, while Richardson and Nesly Marcellon posted nine each.
The Wildcats travel to Hampton to face the Pirates in a Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference game next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Armstrong Stadium.
NOTES: The seven-point margin of defeat was actually the lowest of the Brian Jenkins era. The previous low was eight in a 26-18 loss to South Carolina State at home last season. The other five were double-digit setbacks. ... Eddie Poole's receiving streak improved to 27 games with his two catches ... D.J. Howard's interception was the fourth of his career and marked the 11th straight game B-CU has registered a pick ... with today's performance, Isidore Jackson moves to ninth on the All-Time Career Rushing Yards list with 1,715, surpassing Ricky Cliatt (1976-79) ... Jackson also lept onto the top ten Career Attempts list, debuting at eighth with 335 carries, ahead of Cliatt and Wayne Allen (1972-74) ... Jackson currently is in a tie with Allen with 17 for Career Rushing Touchdowns ... in addition to a career-high for him, Fields' 14 tackles were a B-CU high this year ... B-CU has been outscored 42-7 in the first quarter on the season and has outscored opponents 41-31 in the second quarter