“I just want to win”
With nearly forty minutes until kickoff; fans, students, and supporters proceeded to fill in seats at the BBVA compass stadium for Texas Southern Tigers season opener at home. There’s background music, the ocean of soul is marching up the stands, along with the cheerleaders practicing flips and routines on the sideline. It can definitely become easy to get distracted from the purpose of the attendance on the Saturday evening. TSU Tiger football is back and the heart of 3rd ward pumps again. After waiting nearly 10 months to get back on the field, and redeem the program for the previous two seasons, coach Haywood and the team is ready for action against UT-Permian Basin. Interestingly enough, the game was postponed due to severe thunder storm in the immediate area. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to wait a little more, now would it?
While the rain drops aggressively, I had a chance to speak with a couple of fans while they anxiously wait for the game to resume. When asked what are you wanting to see from todays game and the season, Ms. Pat Edwards simply stated “A win, can we win, win, win! I just want to win” said with a laugh. Real emotions considering the lack-luster seasons the Tigers has produces as of late. KTSU’s Charles Bishop said he’s looking for “balance on the offense”. Wants them to throw the ball more with grad transfer Glen Cuiellette at quarterback.
Finally, the rain clears and fans start to head back to their wet seats. The band sounds off, and the Tigers take the field. After the two hour wait, it’s game time.
The UT- Permian Basin Falcons received the ball first to start the game. Falcons get a couple of big plays including a 43 yard run, which got them down to the 10 yard line. However, the Tigers held their own and stop them 3rd down, Falcons missed the field goal to go up three. Tigers take over on downs, and the offense used the energy the defense gave them to propel them into scoring position. The Tigers strike first, scoring on a big pass from Cuiellette to wide receiver Bobby Hartzog for 39 yards and 6. Cuiellette tosses another touchdown to running back TrenDav Dickson, ending the first quarter 13-2.
The Tigers wanted urgency from the offense and better quarterback play this year. It’s a need. Not only did they show urgency early on but they accomplished something they did not achieve last year. Tigers scored twice in the first quarter. Tigers end the half up 16-2.
During the half time break, the ocean of soul paid their respects to the late Aretha Franklin by singing Natural Woman. Wouldn’t be a HBCU event without soul, now would it?
The start of the third was no different for the Tigers as their dominance continued to show. Cuiellette continued to back up the coaches decision to start him at quarterback by throwing his third touchdown pass late in the 3rd quarter. This put the Tigers up 23-2. The Falcons needed a boost on offense, which prompted them to make change at quarterback. Here comes Sam Allen. Allen lead the falcons down to the red zone, where he punched it in from two yards out. Now down 26-8 after Cuevas field goal, Allen connects with wide receiver Ben Galaviz for a big 64 yard touchdown and got the 2-point conversation. Score is 26-16.
At this point, the 4th quarter protection for Cuiellette broke down, the offensive tackles for the Tigers looked gassed and tired. This lead to the Falcons making defensive plays. Down 10 with 6 minutes to go, the Falcons made a push for a comeback but to no avail. Falcons turn over on downs and the Tigers take over in the red zone up 10 with less than 4 minutes left. Tigers get their first home win in their last eleven tries; 26-16, over the UT Permian Basin. Positive start to a new season.
By no means was this a perfect outing for the Tigers. When asked about some of pass protection issues and concerns, coach Haywood stated” first thing we have to do is get some guys healthy”. We’re really beat up on the offensive line, and we’re trying to make shift right”. He went on to say “coming in, he thought it was our weakness”. The dynamic of the game changed towards the latter part of the 3rd quarter, and the offense did not look comfortable and smooth as they did in the first half. Heading into next weeks game against Texas State, the Tigers have a short time to fix the offensive line play but it has to be top priority. A positive take from this game is they amassed 363 total yards offensively. Ms. Edwards was able to see her team win a home game, and the Tigers were able to start 1-0 for the first time in three years! On to next weeks showdown against the Texas State Bobcats in the first away game of the season.