GREENEVILLE, Tenn. --- The South Atlantic Conference football season gets underway this Saturday afternoon when Tusculum University travels to Gaffney, South Carolina to take on Limestone College. Kick-off time from The Reservation is scheduled for 1 p.m. (ET).
The Pioneers and Saints enter this weekend's lid-lifter with identical 0-2 records after opening the campaign with losses to Gulf South Conference opponents.
Both teams already share a common opponent in West Alabama. Tusculum dropped its home-opener last Saturday to the 20th-ranked Tigers, 47-14 at Pioneer Field, while Limestone lost at West Alabama, 35-18 two weeks ago.
RECAPPING LAST WEEK
The Pioneers surrendered 465 yards offensively as West Alabama scored 40 unanswered points en route. Tusculum was held to 250 yards of offense, despite controlling the football for 34:40 compared to 25:20 for the visitors.
Limestone is coming off a 24-14 loss to 14th-ranked West Georgia in the Saints home opener last Saturday night. Junior running back Jerko'ya Patton posted a career-best 140 yards on the ground and ran for a pair of touchdowns for Limestone in the Saints' 14th consecutive loss. For his efforts, Patton was named the AstroTurf SAC Offensive Player of the Week.
Saturday's contest will be a homecoming for Tusculum seniors Keveon Broadwater and Jordon Shippy, who both played their prep careers at The Reservation for Gaffney High School. Broadwater is slated to make his 34th consecutive start on the TU offensive line, while Shippy continues to be the Pioneers' top rusher.
In last year's 37-10 Tusculum win over Limestone in Greeneville, Shippy rushed for a school-record 258 yards along with three TDs in last season's SAC opener.
The redshirt freshmen duo of Joaquin Collazo and Bryce Moore have been splitting time at quarterback through the first two games. Each have thrown for a touchdown and an interception apiece and are completing above 45 percent of their passes. Their top target has been Ajay Belanger who has hauled in nine receptions for 89 yards, while Shippy is second on the team with six catches for 45 yards and a TD.
On defense, the Pioneers are led by 2018 All-Region linebacker Ivan Hogans who has tallied 17 tackles this year including a season-best 10 stops last week against West Alabama. Two weeks ago, he posted four tackles for loss in a 24-10 road loss at Delta State. Free safety Isaiah Dunn and linebacker Jackson Cauthen are tied for second on the roster with 13 tackles apiece. Cauthen has also been credited with two tackles for loss and an interception.
The defense accounted for nine passes defended last Saturday including three break-ups by freshman cornerback Ty'Korian Brown's in his Tusculum debut. The TU defense has forced three turnovers this year, all interceptions but have yet to record a sack or recover a fumble.
This week will be the fifth meeting between Tusculum and Limestone on the collegiate gridiron. TU leads 3-1 including last year's 37-10 win over the Saints. Limestone's lone victory in the series came two years ago as the Saints rallied with two late touchdowns in a 30-24 overtime victory over the Pioneers.
PIONEER SPORTS NETWORK
Saturday's game will be broadcast on the Pioneer Sports Network. Join the "Voice of the Pioneers" Brian Stayton, along with Joe Byrd and Nathan Humbard as they describe all the action. Listen locally in Greene County on WSMG Radio at 95.5 FM and 1450 AM and on-line at www.TusculumPioneers.com.
The Pioneers will be on the road next Saturday (Sept. 28) as they travel to Newberry College for a 1 p.m. SAC game at Setzler Field on the Newberry, South Carolina campus.