CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Intensity was contagious on the Tennessee Tech sidelines Saturday afternoon, and the team seemed quite aware of exactly how much this game against the Govs in Clarksville meant for their season. They were fighting for the chance to keep the Sgt. York Trophy in Cookeville, and they were fighting on Peay's home turf, at Peay's homecoming event, in front of a stadium full of Gov fans and only a handful of purple and gold.
They had known all week that the game was a must-win, after shouldering two losses to Southeast Missouri and UT Martin by a combined five points to kick off conference play. They knew that they would be battling the 0-2 conference record, along with a snapped six-game streak of being unbeaten at home, and a depth chart plagued by injuries.
It was clear that no matter the loss, the Golden Eagles would need to be on-point in every regard when 4 p.m. rolled around on Saturday.
And that loss was unimaginably great for one Golden Eagle in particular.
Sophomore right guard on the Tech o-line, no. 73 Slade Adams, didn't set off for APSU from Tucker Stadium Saturday morning, but was picked up on the way to Clarksville by the rest of the team. Instead of attending the pre-game meal that morning, Adams was attending his mother's burial services. Sharon Adams passed away on Thursday.
"I just know that I'd rather be out here sweating and working hard than at home grieving," Adams said during warm-ups.
With Adams on the o-line, the Golden Eagles gave up only one sack as the team put together 375 yards of total offense on 70 plays over the course of the game to roll over Austin Peay, 34-21 for their first conference win of the 2010 season.
Jocques Crawford rushed 16 times for 70 yards and two touchdowns for the Golden Eagles, one in each half of Saturday's game. His first came after Henry Sailes 54-yard punt return, and lifted Tech to an early 13-0 lead with 2:21 left in the first quarter. By the end of the first quarter, the Golden Eagles had recorded 146 yards on 23 plays, holding APSU to just 10 plays and 16 yards. Crawford also recorded 19 receiving yards on the day for Tech.
"Jocques tonight, for the first time, just took the ball and ran downhill with it," said head coach Watson Brown. "He's 245 pounds, he's not a dancer, and he was running the ball hard downhill today."
Sophomore quarterback Tre Lamb rushed for a 59 net yards and went 11-17 in passing for 162 yards, including one touchdown toss to wide receiver Tim Benford and a touchdown run himself. Benford had three catches for 85 yards on the day, his longest being a 42-yard touchdown pass from Lamb to start the scoring.
"The offensive line stepped up tonight for sure, I don't even think I got touched but a couple of times," Lamb said. "I only went to the ground about three or four times, and that's a big change. All season I've been going to the ground, so they stepped up really well tonight."
Zack Ziegler gave Tech their third touchdown of the game on a 19-yard rushing play to bring the score to 20-0 in the second quarter. Ziegler logged 24 net receiving and rushing yards on the day. His touchdown marked the end of the second 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive of the half for the Golden Eagles.
APSU answered with their own 10-play, 80-yard drive to end the half with a score of 21-7 in favor of Tech. Gov quarterback Jake Ryan found Devin Stark for a short, five-yard touchdown pass to put Peay on the board with a score of 21-6. Ryan went 17 for 25 on the day, passing for 138 yards and two touchdowns, while Stark led the Govs with five receptions for 52 yards.
Tech's transfer kicker Matthew Barker recorded a career-long, 46-yard field goal in the third quarter after the Govs' Adrian Miles narrowed the score to 21-14 after his touchdown and Stansell's extra point. Henry Sailes returned the kick for 15 yards, but Tech couldn't convert on the third down and brought out the special teams to go for three. Sailes had two punt returns for 56 yards and two kickoff returns for 15 total yards.
Barker notched two field goals on the day, the 46-yarder and a 30-yarder less than four minutes later. He also controlled seven kickoffs for the Golden Eagles for 440 yards, an average of 62.9 yards per kick.
"We needed to win one," Brown said. "We came up here focused tonight, and we outplayed them tonight. We didn't have a turnover all night long, and scored points when we had the chances. We stopped the run tonight, and that was probably the biggest piece of the game, stopping the run. It was just a well played game tonight."
With a revamped depth chart that included two true freshmen, one in place of the injured Malcolm Jones, the unconventional Tech offensive line also played a vital role in the win over the Govs.
"I think they were playing for Malcolm, I saw a lot of people with the number 53 on their arm bands," Brown continued. "But I think that probably the one they rallied around was Slade. For that kid to come and do this, I mean he's a tough kid."
"These guys are my family too," Adams said. "I was with my family this morning, and now I'm out here with my family tonight. I just came out here focused on doing what I had to do, because these guys were counting on me too."
The Golden Eagles will return home next weekend for their third bout in Tucker Stadium as they host the Eastern Illinois Panthers on Saturday at 6 p.m.
* The Golden Eagles and the Govs will be warming up in warm but dry October football weather, with temperatures lingering around 85 degrees during pre-game.
* At kick-off, the teams can expect 87-degree temperatures with chances of rain holding at 10%. Humidity will peak at 24% and a slight 2 mph breeze out of the southwest will keep temperatures between 80 and 85 for the duration of the game.
* True freshman Wes Sherrill will see the first start of his Tech career as he replaces injured left tackle Malcolm Jones. Sherrill is 6'4", 290 lb. native of Antioch, Tenn.
* Tech is 1-4 overall, 0-2 in OVC play, defeating Lane College at in the home opener at Tucker Stadium and shouldering losses against Arkansas, TCU, Southeast Missouri and UT Martin.
* Austin Peay is 2-2 overall and 1-0 in the OVC.
* Saturday's meeting will mark the 45th match-up between APSU and TTU, with Tech owning a 26-17-1 advantage. In their last meeting, Tech had the edge with a 31-23 win.
* Until Saturday afternoon, APSU had yet to match-up against an in-state rival in their hunt to reclaim the Sgt. York Trophy, which they haven't held since 2007. The Golden Eagles need a win in the contest in order to continue their defense of the trophy.
* In OVC play, the Golden Eagle offense has averaged 6.0 yards per play.
* Tech's turnover margin thus far this season sits at -1 this season.
* Tim Benford, currently in the no. 5 spot all time at Tech for receptions with 112 needs only 17 more to jump to the no. 4 spot. He also needs only 14 yards receiving to tie Anton Thomison for the no. 8 spot.
* Henry Sailes has been sitting at 2,988 all-purpose yards, leaving him in the no. 7 spot all-time.
* APSU wins the coin toss and elects to defer. No. 16
First quarter notes:
* A touchback starts the contest for the Golden Eagles, putting them on their own 20 yard line with a first down. Two penalties interrupting sporadic rushing plays set kept Tech on their own 27 on their second down with 20 to go. Junior Dontey Gay rushed for four yards, but it was Lamb's pass to Sailes for a 15-yard gain that left the Golden Eagles just shy of a first down on the 47. Lamb rushed on fourth and inches to get the first down.
*At the APSU 42, Lamb dodged a tackle and found wide receiver Tim Benford on the three yard line for a 42-yard touchdown pass. Transfer sophomore Matthew Barker added the extra point to put Tech on the board, 7-0 with 10:06 left on the clock. The 12-play, 80-yard scoring drive took just under five minutes and left Lamb going 4-for-5 for 69 yards and a touchdown toss.
* Tech was called for catching interference when they attempted to recover an onsides kick despite a fair catch signal by APSU. The Govs started their first drive on their own 45. A series of stops, in one of which junior Dwight Evans forced the Govs to rush for a loss of three, however, left Peay punting.
* Crawford rushed for a combined 12 yards from the Golden Eagle nine to give TTU the first down, but Lamb's pass to Tremaine Hudson cost Tech six yards. On their third down with 15 to go, Lamb pitched to Crawford for 19-yard rush, and TTU was awarded a 15-yard roughing the passer penalty, bringing the Golden Eagles to the 50-yard line. Lamb looked to go long to Benford again, but the pass was incomplete, and a penalty on Tech dropped the line of scrimmage to their own 45. On third and 10, an incomplete pass left the Golden Eagles punting, and junior Nick Campbell drove one to the Govs' 13.
* Unable to get the snap off, APSU backed up to the eight, where the Golden Eagles held them to a two-yard gain. Two incomplete passes left the Govs in a must-punt situation at fourth and 13 on their own eight yard line.
* Sailes forced a wash on the punt, returning the 54-yard punt to the APSU 10 for a 54-yard return, putting Tech in a first and goal scenario. Hudson rushed for four yards, and at second and goal from the six yard line, Lamb rushed to the two-yard line. At third and goal, Crawford drove through the pile for the second touchdown of the game. Barker's extra point left the score at 14-0 in favor of the Golden Eagles with 2:21 left on the clock.
* Barker's kick was downed on the 28 yard line, and APSU rushed for 12 to get their first first down of the game just before the first quarter expired.
* By the end of the first quarter, Tech had recorded 146 yards on 23 plays, holding APSU to just 10 plays and 16 yards.
Second quarter notes:
* The Govs started with the ball on their own 42, and with second and eight to go, quarterback Jake Ryan found no. 32 Jontaimion Forrest for a first down. Tech stopped Peay at the TTU 47, and with second and 10 the Govs rushed for seven. Again the Golden Eagle d-line stopped Ryan's offense at the 40, but Ryan followed up with a 12-yard pass for a first down. With third and seven to go, Ryan's incomplete pass brought APSU's special teams players on. Stansell's 31-yard attempt was no good, and the Golden Eagle offense picked up on their own 20 yard line.
* Gay toted the ball, and half of the Governor's defense, for a 19-yard gain. Lamb fumbled and recovered at the Tech 35 for a net loss of two, putting the Golden Eagles at second and thirteen. A incompletion left Lamb passing on third down, and a pass interference call on no. 43 Zac Burkhart put Tech on the 42 with a new set of downs.
* Lamb rushed for four yards, and his next seven-yard play in the air to Zack Ziegler earned the first down for Tech. At the Governor 45, and incompletion intended for Ziegler left Tech at third and nine on the APSU 45. Lamb rushed the ball to the 38 for fourth and two, and the Golden Eagles elected to go for the first down. Hudson rushed the ball for the first down, and a facemask call left TTU sitting on the 19. Ziegler rushed for the third touchdown of the game and Barker notched another extra point for the 21-0 lead.
* The scoring drive was the second 12-play, 80-yard drive of the half, eating up 5:33 of the clock.
* Austin Peay proceeded to put on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive ending in a fourth and two situation in which Ryan found no. 18 Devin Stark with a five-yard touchdown pass, making the score 21-7 with 1:03 left on the clock.
* APSU kicked to the 14, and Tech was unable to muster a return on the play. Crawford and the team rushed for a net gain of two yards before the end of the half.
* TTU leads by a score of 21-7, having rushed 119 yards to APSU's 44.
* The two teams nearly matched each other in passing, with Tech earning a slight edge with 89 passing yards to Peay's 86.
* Tech logged 208 yards of offense in 37 plays, compared to Peay's 130 yards in 29 plays.
* While both teams went 2-for-2 in fourth down conversions, Tech went 4-for-7 in third down conversions while Peay went 1-for-6.
* The Govs trailed the Golden Eagles with 13:30 minutes of possession time, while the Tech logged 16:30 minutes.
Third quarter notes:
* Barker's kick was returned 26 yards to start the Govs at their own 25, but the Golden Eagle d-line made the Govs punt less than two minutes later from the 28 to the TTU 15. Sailes earned a two-yard return on the punt.
* Hudson carried the ball for another two yards, and an incompletion intended for Benford left the Golden Eagles on their third down with eight yards to go. Lamb rushed for seven yards to the Tech 26, and on fourth and one the Golden Eagles got the Govs confused by keeping their offense on the field. However, they couldn't convert the team rush on the fourth down and the Govs took over at the Tech 24.
* Ryan found Stark for a 12-yard pass, putting Peay on the Tech 12. Ryan's next pass was an eight-yarder to Andrian Mines to log the first Gov touchdown of the second half. The extra point made the score 21-14, favoring Tech.
* Sailes returned the kick 15 yards, and Lamb lined up for a snap that he lofted for a 35-yard completion to Benford on the Gov 34. The Golden Eagles carried the ball for a net five yards, but the Golden Eagles couldn't convert and Barker came out for his career-long, 46-yard field goal. With 7:44 left on the clock, Tech led 24-14.
* On Barker's kick off, no. 10 Corbin Miles stripped and recovered the ball from returner no. 3 Terrance Holt at the APSU 26. Lamb and Crawford carried the ball for a combined 14 yards, and Tech lined up on the 13 with a new set of downs. Lamb rusehd for a loss of two and Crawford rushed for a gain of one, and on third and 11 the Gov d-line held up the Golden Eagles. Barker came out and converted a 30-yard field goal attempt for another three points for the Golden Eagles. The scoring drive ate up 3:32 off the clock, and the score sat at 27-14 in favor of Tech.
* A 39-yard return for the Govs by Holt started off the drive down the field, which he follow up with a two-yard rush. A 10-yard pass to Stark gave the Govs a first down, but the Golden Eagles held them to third and three before Ryan White ran for 19 yards and another first down at the Tech 23. A three-yard gain put the Govs on the Tech 20 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Fourth quarter notes:
* Forrest rushed for two yards to give the Govs a first down, and White rushed to the six and fumbled. The ball was recovered by no. 31 Golden Eagle renegade Jake McIntosh on his own seven.
* On third and two from the Tech 14, a snapping infraction put the Golden Eagles on the seven, and an inability to convert on the third down brought the punt team onto the field. Campbell's 27-yard punt was caught at the 32 yard line by Holt.
* From there, the Govs put on a scoring drive ending in a 28-yard rushing touchdown by Holt. Stansell's extra point brought the score to 27-21 with 11:04 left on the clock.
* Hudson returned the kick 35 yards to the Tech 39, and Lamb was sacked for a loss of four by Burkhart. On third and 11, Lamb connected with Colin Allen for a 16-yard pass to put Tech on the 46 and then with Benford for an eight-yard gain to the 38. Allen snagged another out of the air from Lamb for a 14-yard gain and a fresh set of downs at the APSU 24, and Lamb rushed 17 yards to the seven. On a pitch, Crawford dodged the Govs for a seven-yard touchdown run. Combined with the extra point, the Golden Eagles led the Govs by a score of 34-21 with 7:01 left in the game.
* A 16-yard return left the Govs on the 19 yard line. On third and eight with one time out remaining, the Govs made a six yard pass to put them at fourth and one. A nine-yard rush by White got the Govs a first down, but Ryan's next pass was picked off by no. 11 Marty Jones to put the Golden Eagles on their own 36.
* At third and two on the 44, Crawford rushed for one to bring the Golden Eagles to fourth and inches. Electing to go for it, Lamb dove into the pile to get four more downs for Tech at their 47 yard line.
* Lamb handed off to Crawford, who rushed for 16-yards before being brought down on the APSU 43. Crawford carried twice more to get the ball to the 37, and on fourth down with four to go, Crawford rushed for 12 to get the first down before time expired.