TSU shows improvement but falls short in the end

September 30, 2017

Even in defeat, Texas Southern showed signs of improvement Friday night.

The Tigers stayed within striking distance of Alcorn State at BBVA Compass Stadium before falling short 24-17.

TSU (0-4) never led but gave the three-time defending SWAC East Division champions a game, highlighted by Daequan Jones’ 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the final minute of the first quarter.

Redshirt sophomore Dominic DeLira made his first college start at quarterback for the Tigers, replacing senior Jay Christophe, who broke a forearm in last week’s game. DeLira completed 23 of 43 passes for 183 yards without being sacked and directed the offense to a third-quarter touchdown.

“We played better, but not good enough to win,” TSU coach Michael Haywood said. “We didn’t put up enough points. We ran the ball better this week.”

The Braves (3-2) were successful running the outside zone play behind senior quarterback Lenorris Footman, who passed for 241 yards and engineered an offense that held a 485-295 advantage in total yards.

Lacking Footman’s experience, DeLira was more than competent leading the Tigers, who scored their lone offensive touchdown on Brad Woodard’s 2-yard run with 4:04 left in the third quarter.

“I liked his toughness,” Haywood said. “When he got hit, he didn’t rattle. He maintained his composure. He ran the offense with some consistency.”

It was an interesting week for DeLira as he made the transition to starter.

“We tried to execute a different kind of offense approach (than) we usually take,” said DeLira, who found Darvin Kidsy 11 times for 87 yards. “We ran a different kind of play style than when we had Jay. It ran smoothly. We were staying on the field.”

Jones returned three kickoffs totaling 150 yards. None was more exciting than his 93-yard score while running the middle return.

“He saw the entire wall converge inside, so he just cut back outside to the left,” Haywood said. “And guys stayed on their blocks and we were able to get six points.”

Richard Dean is a freelance writer.