Michael German started on the bench. Luckily, for Tennessee State, the sophomore quarterback didn’t stay there long.
German threw for a career-high 318 yards and three touchdowns as the Tigers rallied past Austin Peay for a 34-14 victory on Saturday in front of 14,264 at Hale Stadium. It marked the first game back on campus since 1998 and was the 21st largest crowd in The Hole’s 61-year history.
German didn’t start for the first time in 11 games due to a violation of team rules. Redshirt-freshman Ryan Turnage broke the huddle on the opening possession. After that, German was in control, helping the Tigers (3-0, 1-0) win their Ohio Valley Conference opener and snap a three-game losing streak against the Governors (0-3, 0-1).
The 2011 Ohio Valley Conference Freshman of the Year completed his first six passes and was 27-of-36 for his second 300-yard passing game – both against Austin Peay.
“We had some situations go on last week and I had to get his attention a little bit,” TSU coach Rod Reed said. “But Mike is my starting quarterback. I love him to death. I love him like a son and sometimes it takes a little tough love but I think he got the message.”
The Tigers overcame two touchdowns by Devin Stark, who finished with nine catches and a career-high 109 yards. His second score came late in the first half, giving the Governors a 14-9 halftime lead.
From there, it was all German and the Tigers, who scored 25 unanswered points to hand Austin Peay its 13th straight road loss. Since a 37-34 win over TSU last season, the Governors have lost nine of 10.
“We were determined to pick up the passing game,” German said. “Our passing game hasn’t been as good as we expected since camp. We haven’t been on key like we’re supposed to. That was our goal this week to be balanced and pick up the passing game.”
German connected with eight different receivers, especially Travis James. The senior caught a career-high nine passes for a personal-best 109 receiving yards and hauled in a 27-yard touchdown from German at the back of the end zone.
“Mike is a tough guy,” Reed said. “He has guys all over him sometimes and he can still stay down the field and throw the football. He stands in the pocket too long, sometimes too long. He thinks little bit too much of himself sometimes. But he does a great job.
“He’s the leader of that offense so we’ve got to have him out there.”