Tennessee State getting big kick out Zita’s performances

Tennessee State placekicker Antonio Zita is turning heads — and probably making some Power Five coaches wonder how he never made it on their recruiting radar.

Zita earned his second consecutive Ohio Valley Conference special teams player of the week award after booming field goals of 51 and 62 yards and then connecting on a chip shot from 35 yards as time expired to give the Tigers a 21-20 victory against Eastern Illinois. A week earlier, he hit three more field goals in a loss to Jacksonville State.

The 51-yarder was a career long for Zita, and tied for the sixth-longest field goal in praoram history. The 62-yarder is one shy of the longest in FCS history of 63 yards.

For the season, the junior has made eight of 10 attempts and 40 of 48 in his career.

After the victory, coach Rod Reed said Zita asked him, `Why did you let me kick the ball?’ I said `because you told me you could.’ He’s one of our better weapons on the team so why not use him?”

HERE COMES VMI

Virginia Military Institute has accomplished something it hadn’t managed since 1981 by winning its first three games of the season. The Keydets beat Mercer 41-14 on Saturday.

Balance and defense were key for VMI as they piled up 212 yards rushing, 258 passing and 29 first downs while limiting the Bears (1-5) to just 170 yards and 10 first downs.

“To start 3-0 for the first time since 1981 is huge and a tremendous accomplishment,” sixth-year coach Scott Wachenheim, whose record is now 14-45, said. “We had two themes this week: to be humble and hungry.”

It was also in 1981 that the Keydets last had a winning record, finishing 6-3-1.

The Keydets travel to Samford on Saturday.

BATTLING BISON

North Dakota State is continuing to make things interesting in the spring.

The Bison, winners of eight of the last nine Football Champion Subdivision national championships, were stunned 38-14 by Southern Illinois in their second game of the spring, and needed to turn to a freshman quarterback on Saturday to beat Illinois State.

Cam Miller capped a 13-play, 84-yard drive with a 6-yard scramble for a touchdown with 3:39 to play to clinch North Dakota State’s 21-13 win over Illinois State.

Miller entered the game with no pass attempts and two runs for 7 yards.

Bison rival North Dakota, meanwhile, is off to a 4-0 start, including a 44-21 victory against Southern Illinois. The Bison and Fighting Hawks meet Saturday at North Dakota State, where the Bison have a 31-game winning streak.

DUKES PAUSE

James Madison, among the top FCS programs annually, has paused all football activities because of COVID issues and will not be able to play on Saturday against Richmond.

The Dukes also missed last week’s game against William & Mary.

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