An electrifying homecoming clash had spectators on the edge of their seats. Tennessee State University (TSU) and Norfolk University went head-to-head at Nissan Stadium. The game was marked by a series of dramatic twists and turns, culminating in TSU’s triumph with an 18-yard touchdown run by their quarterback, Draylen Ellis, in the last moments. The crowd of 13,975 witnessed a gripping contest that exemplified the spirit and resilience of both teams. However, this turnout didn’t meet Eddie George’s expectations.
Photo Cred: X
He enters the year with a 9-13 record in his first two seasons. He had five wins in 2021 and 4 wins in 2022; at least George has shown improvement. The Tigers currently stand at 4-2 with a 24-17 victory over Norfolk State of the MEAC on October 14 during homecoming. George expressed disappointment about the crowd size. An estimated “30,000 fans” were tailgating, with only 13,395 fans inside. The Tennessean reported an attendance of 8,632 in two home games.
“We have a chance to go 5-2, we have a chance to have a winning record and a winning season, and the people who are interested in watching us play will come out and support us, and the people who aren’t, then so be it,” George commented.
Last year, attendance dropped from 16,892 fans to an average of 10,680 in the final two home games, which is a 37% decrease.
“Some people may not agree with me being the hire here, and that’s fine. I’m OK with that. But it’s not me that you’re not supporting; it’s these kids. These kids who get up at 4 o’clock in the morning and bust their tails to study, to practice, and give the fans something to be excited about,” he stated.
Even with the light crowd, the game commenced with an electrifying atmosphere, as TSU aimed to make a statement. James Lowery set the tone with a remarkable 37-yard field goal, granting TSU an early lead. The Tigers’ offense continued to shine, and their persistence paid off when Canen Adrian received a 9-yard pass from Ellis and turned it into an impressive 42-yard touchdown.
Norfolk University encountered challenges throughout the game. Tennessee State’s defensive pass rush lived in the backfield during the game. Norfolk trailed by 17 points due to TSU’s potent offense and solid defense. The Tigers’ strong start highlighted their dominance on the field and ability to maintain a commanding lead.
Photo Cred: TSU
As the game unfolded, both teams displayed remarkable defensive prowess. With the score gap narrowing, the final quarter was an intense battle. The game was deadlocked at 17-17 in the fourth quarter, and tension hung heavy in Nissan Stadium. Regardless, TSU remained determined to secure the homecoming victory. In a crucial 10-play sequence, Tennessee State executed a 75-yard drive that culminated in an 18-yard touchdown run by quarterback Draylen Ellis with just 5:13 left on the clock. This pivotal moment ignited the crowd and solidified the Tigers’ lead.
More fans should’ve seen this great game. Homecomings are huge deals for HBCUs, and TSU needs more support as they march back to the top of HBCU football. Tennessee State University has a rich football culture. The Tigers used to be one of the premier HBCUs in the country for the sport. NFL greats include Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Richard Dent, Claude Humphrey, and Ed “ Too Tall” Jones.