NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee State’s homecoming served as a replacement for the Gateway Classic on Arkansas-Pine Bluff’s football schedule.
While UAPB was just the visiting team Saturday, the game still made up for what the Golden Lions would have otherwise lost in fanfare without the annual St. Louis event.
Saturday’s game drew 31,765 fans, which is a record for a Tennessee State game at LP Field. It’s also the second biggest crowd to watch a UAPB game in at least the past three years, trailing only the 38,722 at Jackson State’s 2011 homecoming game.
Many Golden Lions fans assembled in the deck below the third-level press box, watching their team take an early 10-0 lead against the nation’s No. 1 black college team. But any hopes for a huge road victory fizzled in the second half, when the Tigers scored 28 unanswered points.
Reduction in penalties
Tennessee State and UAPB were ranked first and second, respectively, in the Football Championship Subdivision in most penalty yards per game with 115.5 and 109.
For at least one night, both teams kept flags at a minimum. UAPB collected six flags for 46 yards and Tennessee State had eight penalties for 75 yards.
Asked what the Lions did to cut down on mistakes, coach Monte Coleman gave a wide grin at first, but not an extensive answer.
“We practiced not causing penalties in practice,” Coleman said. “I’ll leave it at that.”
Letting everyone know …
UAPB offensive lineman Lyron McClenney was flagged for a personal foul on a late third-quarter drive, but Tennessee State declined the penalty as UAPB was already pinned at its own 13. After referee Jason McArthur formally announced the penalty, his microphone projected his next few words:
“You just clubbed him in the back, 54!” McArthur said.
Latest trends …
A win would have put UAPB a win away from a 5-1 start, its best since 2004. … The Lions had not trailed in the first half all season until Saturday, when Jamin Godfrey converted a 42-yard field goal with no time left. … UAPB lost its first coin toss this season as Tennessee State elected to receive. … Lions defensive end Brandon Thurmond finished without a sack for the first time this year. He had five tackles, three of them assisted.
Lions weak-side linebacker Xavier Lofton was shaken up at the 9:32 mark of the second quarter with an upper-body injury, but he would finish the game and is expected to play next Saturday against Jackson State.
He’s taken over as the starter at that position for senior Joe Dalton, who’s been slowed by a foot injury. Dalton did not make the trip to Nashville and Coleman said he’ll announce Dalton’s availability for future games on Monday.
The game ball goes to …
Tennessee State running back Telvin Hooks, whose 108 yards rushing are a career high. He also ran for two touchdowns.
Next for the Lions …
UAPB plays its first home game since Sept. 8 when it welcomes Jackson State next Saturday. Kickoff at Golden Lion Stadium is set for 6 p.m.