September 10, 2009

Golden Eagles grind out 51-10 victory over Pikeville to open season

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech scored on all five first half possessions to build a 34-0 lead at the intermission and coasted to a 51-10 season-opening, non-conference victory over Pikeville College Thursday night in Tucker Stadium.

Dontey Gay (photo at right) rushed for a career-best 88 yards on nine carries and scored a pair of touchdowns to pace a ground attack that piled up 256 yards, the third-most rushing yards in a game in head coach Watson Brown's tenure with the Golden Eagles.

Senior Cedric Wilkerson also scored a pair of touchdowns, while sophomore Jimmy Blair and senior quarterback Lee Sweeney each reached paydirt on the ground as the Golden Eagles rushed for six scores. Tech also got a 53-yard touchdown pass from Sweeney to sophomore Alden Olverson.

In addition to Gay's 88 yards, sophomore Tremaine Hudson gained 86 yards in 11 carries. Sweeney finished the game 14-for-18 for 187 yards and one touchdown, playing three quarters before yielding the signal-calling duties to redshirt freshman Tre Lamb.

Tech's defense set the tone early, as senior co-captain Brendon Fisher intercepted a pass on Pikeville's second play from scrimmage, leading to a two-play, 32-yard scoring drive as Gay rushed for 24 yards on the first play and eight yards for a touchdown on the second.

Six minutes later, junior Dustin Dillehay intercepted a Bear pass at the Tech 11 after Pikeville had marched 42 yards in 12 plays. The Golden Eagles capitalized on that turnover to march 89 yards and make it 14-0 on a one-yard plunge from Wilkerson.

The difference went to 21-0 on a one-yard push by Sweeney early in the second quarter after Dillehay returned a short punt 27 yards to the Pikeville 20.

Sweeney hit a wide open Olverson in stride down the middle for the longest play of the game, a 53-yard pass to make it 28-0. It was the first catch of Olverson's career after he moved to wide receiver from the defense following his freshman season.

Tech's lead was 34-0 at halftime after Wilkerson's second TD from the one and a missed PAT.

Donegan kicked his first career field goal, a 28-yard try, late in the third quarter to make it 37-0. Tech went on top 44-0 early in the four quarter as Gay scored from the five, a drive engineered by Lamb that covered 60 yards in six plays, all on the ground.

Pikeville put its first TD of the season on the board with 3:58 remaining when Jeremy Mobley broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run.

Lamb handed the ball to Blair on four consecutive plays and the sophomore moved Tech 53 yards, including a 35-yard run on the first play and a 15-yard touchdown to cap it and make it 51-7.

Pikeville moved 69 yards on the ensuing kickoff, a 39-yard carry and a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Golden Eagles. From the 21, the Bears moved the ball to the nine, setting the stage for a 26-yard field from from Kyle Chilton with six seconds to play for the final margin.

The Golden Eagles managed 443 yards in total offense, including 256 on the ground and 187 through the air. Pikeville had 180 total yards, rushing for 127 and adding 53 passing.

Defensively, in addition to the interceptions from Fisher and Dillehay, the Golden Eagles were led in tackles by Howard Griffin with eight. Freshman Barry Lenon registered the only sack of the game, an eight-yard loss.

Tech (1-0) opens Ohio Valley Conference play next week when it visits defending champion Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m. (CDT) Saturday in Roy Kidd Stadium. 

Photo above: Tech president Bob Bell does push-ups in the end zone with the Golden Eagle cheerleaders, counting out Tech's points during the game

-- photos by Tony Marable

Here is a running notebook of the game: