The 34th Southern Heritage Classic is taking place in neutral site Memphis, TN, between the Tennessee State Tigers (1-1) of the Ohio Valley Conference and Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions (0-2) of the SWAC. The TSU Tigers come into the game after a tough season-opening defeat against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, a 3-56 loss a week ago. The Golden Lions also had a tough start to the season with a loss to the Tulsa Golden Hurricanes 7-42, and both teams were looking to get a notch in the win column.
This was a matchup that traditionally had the Jackson State Tigers vs. Tennesse State Tigers. The first meeting was in 1990, and the last for now was in 2022. In 1991 Mississippi Valley State played against the TSU Tigers, and in 1993, Grambling State Tigers played against the TSU Tigers as well.
This is the fourth matchup between the Tennessee State Tigers and the Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions. The first two matchups happened in 2012 and 2016, both won by the TSU Tigers. The last meeting was in 2019, won by the Golden Lions 37-31. The 2023 edition of the Southern Heritage Classic was just as good.
The Tennessee State Tigers started the game with a three-and-out. The Arkansas Pine Bluff Golden Lions were also forced to punt after three plays pinning the TSU Tigers inside their own 1-yard line. The Tigers took the ball 10 plays 99 yards to take a 7-0 lead with 7:11 remaining in the first quarter. The drive was capped off with a 4-yard touchdown run by RB Jordan Gant. A defensive battle ensued for the remainder of the quarter and for much of the second quarter. With 35 seconds left, the Tigers punched in a rushing touchdown from 1 yard out by QB Demeatric Crenshaw to make the halftime lead 14-0
The third quarter was a field position battle, but with 56 seconds left, the TSU Tigers tacked on a 23-yard field goal by K James Lowery to bring the lead to 17-0. The fourth quarter scoring began with a 4-yard touchdown run by RB Johness Davis to put the Golden Lions on the board 17-7. With 10:06 left in the game, the Arkansas Pine Bluff defense stepped up with a timely turnover as TSU Tigers WR Karate Brenson fumbled going into the endzone, and DL JaVonn Gray came up with a recovery.
The Golden Lions took the ball on a 7-play 99-yard drive capped off with a 3-yard touchdown pass by QB Jalen Macon to TE Kevin English. The Arkansas Pine Bluff defense stepped up again and forced a three-and-out. The Golden Lions started on their own 22-yard line with 5:11 on the clock. It was a 13-play drive that had 54 remaining, and a 31-yard field goal would have tied the game, but it was blocked by TSU, and LB James Green returned the ball 92 yards for a touchdown. The game was put out of reach, and the victory secured for the Tennessee State Tigers 24-14.
ARKANSAS PINE-BLUFF GOLDEN LIONS DEFENSIVE STARS
Although the Golden Lions fell short in this game, they still had a few players that stood out on the defensive side of the ball. LB Rico Dozier led the team with thirteen tackles. DE Marc Flemming came in second with seven tackles, two sacks, and a forced fumble. LB Khiry Morrison and DL Kendarious Clark both had six tackles a piece.
TENNESSEE STATE TIGERS DEFENSIVE STARS
To help their team win the game, a few players stood out on the defensive side of the ball. LB James Green and LB Monroe Beard III both led the team in tackles with eleven. CB Bryce Phillips and DB Jeremiah Josephs, DL Chris Walker, and DL Cameron Stewart all had six tackles each. DL Chris Walker also had a sack.