Fourth quarter Golden Eagle rally just misses in first OVC loss

Fourth quarter Golden Eagle rally just misses in first OVC loss

Fourth-quarter rally falls just shy in Tucker Stadium

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — A fourth-quarter rally wasn’t quite enough to lift 19th ranked Tennessee Tech over Tennessee State Saturday at Tucker Stadium as four costly turnovers wrecked the Golden Eagles’ bid for a fifth consecutive victory.

It wasn’t for lack of heart-wrenching effort that Tech (4-2, 3-1 OVC) suffered its first conference loss of the season. The Golden Eagles nearly overcame their self-inflicted mistakes by scoring the final 20 points of the game and earned themselves a chance to win before coming up two points short.

TSU, meanwhile, won its second-consecutive OVC game after snapping a nine-game conference losing streak last week.

Tennessee Tech threw two interceptions and twice lost fumbles, a combined four turnovers that led to 14 Tennessee State points. The Tigers appeared to break the game open in the third quarter after recovering a fumble at the Tech 23-yard line and scoring on a 15-yard Dante Thomas touchdown run to take a 42-20 lead with 10:28 left in the quarter.

The Golden Eagle defense buckled down, however, holding the Tigers off the scoreboard for the remainder of the game and allowing the offense to chip away at the deficit.

Tech cut the lead to 42-40 with just 15 seconds left to play when Tre Lamb hit Zack Ziegler on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Golden Eagles recovered the ensuing onsides kick attempt, but officials ruled the ball did not travel the required 10 yards, giving TSU possession and ending the game.

Lamb completed 34 of 58 passes for 348 yards, notching his first career 300-yard passing game. Lamb broke three school records on the night, accounting for the most completed passes in a single game (34), the most pass attempts (58) and the most total play (69, taking into account his 11 rushes).

The Golden Eagles amassed 36 first downs on the night compared to 19 for TSU. The 36 first downs set an all-time single-game record, breaking the previous record of 32 set in 1976 against Nebraska-Omaha.

Zach Sharp booted four field goals on the night for Tennessee Tech, including a career-high 49-yarder to cut the TSU lead to 28-20 just before halftime. He also connected on four extra points to account for 16 total points.

Sharp hit a 31-yarder with 3:14 left in the third quarter to begin the Golden Eagle comeback, and Tommie McBride forced a TSU fumble that was recovered by junior linebacker Howard Griffin at the Tennessee State 46-yard line on the ensuing drive. Tech launched a drive that resulted in a two-yard touchdown pass from Lamb to Charlie Stevens, cutting the lead to 42-30 with 13:52 left in the game.

The Golden Eagle defense then forced TSU three-and-out, and the offense set up a Sharp 26-yard attempt to cut the lead to 42-33. Tech’s defense stepped up once again, forcing a Tiger punt from deep in TSU territory, and the offense drove to the Tennessee State 14-yard-line before stalling. A holding penalty and a sack moved the ball back 18 yards, and Sharp’s 42-yard attempt his fifth field goal of the evening fell about a yard short of the crossbar.

TSU put the ball on the ground again and Will Johnson recovered for the Golden Eagles at their own 21-yard line with 2:47 left to play, setting up the Lamb-to-Ziegler touchdown with 15 seconds left.

Tech finished with 462 yards of total offense compared to 398 for TSU.

Dontey Gay was the Golden Eagles’ leading rusher, carrying 11 times for 75 yards and one touchdown. Adam Urbano made his return to the field, seeing action for the first time since suffering an high ankle sprain in the season-opener at Iowa, and carried eight times for 32 yards while catching four passes for 25 yards.

Tim Benford was Tech’s top receiver, catching 10 passes for 122 yards. The 10 catches tied Benford’s career-best. Zack Ziegler hauled in eight catches for 79 yards and a score, and also rushed four times for 23 yards and another score, giving him 102 all-purpose yards.

Tennessee State quarterback Mike German went 19-for-29 for 232 yards and two touchdowns, while the Tigers were led on the ground by Dante Thomas, who carried 14 times for 79 yards and two scores. Wide receiver Calvin McNairl caught four passes for 96 yards.

The Golden Eagles have a bye week next week before traveling to league-leading Jacksonville State on Oct. 29. Tech still controls its own destiny in the hunt for the OVC title. If the Golden Eagles win the remainder of their games, they would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over any other one-loss team.

Tennessee State struck first, taking advantage of a Gay fumble deep in Tech territory on the opening drive and scoring on a 12-yard pass from German to Jeremy Pryor. The Tigers took a 14-0 lead halfway through the first quarter on another touchdown strike from German to Devin Wilson.

TTU answered, however, tying the game with two scores on a Gay one-yard run and a Ziegler 10-yard run. Tennessee State took a lead it wouldn’t lose, however, on a one-yard run by Dante Thomas to pull ahead 21-14 early in the second quarter.

Sharp connected on his first field goal of the night to cut the lead to 21-17 with 9:10 left in the half, but TSU extended the advantage to 28-17 on a Trabis Ward three-yard touchdown run with 3:20 remaining. Sharp’s 49-yarder cut the deficit to eight at halftime.

See the live game blog below: 

Pregame notes --

* Tech and TSU meet for the 25th time tonight. The Tigers hold a 14-10 edge in the all-time series, but Tech has won the last two games including a 21-10 decision last year in Nashville.
* The Golden Eagles have won four in a row, and bring a 4-1 overall record into the game. Tech is 3-0 in the Ohio Valley Conference and tied for first place.
* This game is the second for each team in the battle for the Sgt. York Trophy. Tech is 1-0 and TSU is 0-1.
* Tim Benford needs one more touchdown to tie the school record of 27 career TD receptions, held by Larrry Shipp. He also needs 12 receptions to tieShipp's record of 195 career catches.
* Dontey Gay needs 25 yards to climb into the all-time Top 10 in career rushing yards. He enters the game with 1,696 yards.
* Tre Lamb can climb into the Top 10 in career passing yards with 303 more yards.
* Tonight's starting quarterbacks, Tre Lamb and TSU's Michael German, are tied for the top of the OVC in passing efficiency, each with a 148 rating.
*Temperatures around 60 degrees as kickoff approaches, expected to dip down into the low 50s throughout the evening. Weather is clear.
*Tech is wearing purple jerseys with gold lettering, gold pants and white helmets. Tennessee State is wearing white jerseys with blue lettering, blue pants and white helmets.
*Captains for Tennessee Tech are Travis Adkins, Tim Benford, Jamere Hogue and Richmond Tooley. Captains for Tennessee State are Hunter Howard, Mike German and Rico Council.
* Tennessee Tech has own the toss and will receive.

First Quarter --
*Tech will start its drive at the 8-yard line after a muffed return attempt.
*TSU recovers a Dontey Gay fumble on the first play from scrimmage and takes over at the Tech 14-yard line. Fumble recovery by Rico Council.
*TSU touchdown pass from Michael German to Jeremy Pryor on third down gives Tigers a 7-0 lead after PAT. 13:51 left in quarter.
*Cody Forbes returns kickoff to the 28 yard line, where Tech will begin its second drive.
*Running back Adam Urbano is on the field for the Tech offense for the first time since the season-opener against Iowa. He returns from a high ankle sprain.
*TSU's Andrew Taylor breaks up third-down pass attempt to force a Tech punt. Tigers take over at their own 32 yard line.
*Four-yard pass from German to Devin Wilson for a TSU first down at the Tech 45. It is the second TSU first down on the current drive.
*Trabis Ward carries for another TSU first down on a sweep to the left side for an 11-yard gain. Ball at the Tech 27 yard line.
*Devin Wilson breaks several Tech tackles en route to a 27-yard touchdown reception from German. After PAT, Tigers lead 14-0 with 8:44 left in the first quarter.
*Tech takes over at its own 39 yard line after a personal foul facemask penalty on TSU on the kick return.
*Tech picks up its second first down of the drive on a pass interference penalty on a deep pass attempt. Ball at TSU 40 yard line.
*Zack Ziegler picks up 15-yard gain to the TSU 18 yard line on a run down the left sideline.
*Dontey Gay bulldozes his way to another first down at the TSU 1-yard-line. First and goal Golden Eagles.
*Gay carries one yard up the middle for a Tech touchdown. With Sharp PAT, Golden Eagles now trail 14-7 with 6:10 left in the quarter.
*Long kickoff return by TSU comes back to the 18-yard line, where the Tigers will take over.
*Tra'Darius Goff with the open field tackle on a TSU third-down reception, forcing a fourth-down punt.
*Tech takes over at its own 23 after an illegal block in the back called on the Golden Eagles.
*Lamb 13-yard pass to Ziegler picks up first down for TTU at its own 33 yard line.
*Adam Urbano fights his way past several would-be tacklers en route to a first down after catching a Lamb pass over the middle. Tech ball at own 44.
*Adam Urbano runs 16 yards for a first down on a Lamb pitch to convert third down. Ball at TSU 34.
*Tre Lamb breaks a 20-plus yard run on first down on the QB keeper. First down Tech at TSU 13.
*First quarter ends with Tech holding 2nd and 7 at the TSU 10-yard line.

Second Quarter --
*Touchdown Tech! Zack Ziegler carries 10 yards to the right side and into the end zone. Sharp adds PAT and Tech ties game at 14 with 14:52 left in the quarter.
*Travis James returns kickoff to the TSU 38, where the Tigers will take over.
*Dante Thomas carries up the middle for an 11-yard gain and a TSU first down at their own 49.
*German rifles a pass over the middle to Calvin McNairl, who carries it all the way to the Tech 1 yard line, converting on third down.
*Thomas punches it in from one yard out. With PAT, TSU leads 21-14 with 13:26 left in the half.
*Big kickoff return by Bud Golden to put the Golden Eagles a their own 41, where they'll begin the drive.
*Lamb hits Benford down the left sideline for a 22-yard gain and a Tech first down at the TSU 37 yard line.
*Another first down for Tech as Ryan Tilghman makes his first career reception to get the Golden Eagles to the TSU 20.
*Lamb threads the needle, completes pass over the middle to Tim Benford for a first down to the TSU 5-yard line.
*Lamb sacked by Wilson Robinson and Holt Claiborne on third and goal.
*Sharp connects on 34-yard field goal to cut TSU lead to 21-17 with 9:10 left in the half. The kick was a career-long for Sharp, a freshman.
*TSU will take over at own 24 yard line.
*First down TSU after pass interference call on third down, moves ball to TSU 45, 1st and 10.
*German finds Trabis Ward for another third-down conversion on a 12-yard pass. First and 10 TSU at Tech 40 yard line.
*TSU converts third consecutive third down on 18-yard pass from German to McNairl to the left sideline. Ball at Tech 16.
*Ward carries seven yards to the Tech 3, picks up first and goal for TSU.
*Ward carries up the middle for the TSU touchdown. Tigers lead 28-17 with 3:20 left to play in the half.
*Lamb completes first-down pass to Ziegler to the Tech 48-yard line with 2:22 left in the half.
*Benford makes catch and gets out of bounds along the right sideline for another Tech first down. 11-yard pass to the TSU 41-yard line.
*Third consecutive first down pass as Lamb hits Benford again along the left sideline for a 10-yard gain to the TSU 31.
*Lamb pass is intercepted by TSU's Steven Godolt at the 2-yard line. Tigers take over with 1:30 left in the half.
*Howard Griffin brings down Dante Thomas on third down, setting up 4th and 8 for TSU at own 6 yard line. TTU calls timeout with 40 seconds left in the half.
*Tech takes over after TSU punt at Tigers' 43 yard line.
*Incomplete pass on 3rd and 6, Tech facing 4th and 6 from TSU 38 with 13 seconds left.
*Lamb completes pass to Tilghman to TSU 32. First down Tech with 9 seconds remaining.
*Sharp gets enough distance on 49-yard field goal attempt to make the score 28-20 with 1.5 seconds left in the half. The kick is a new career high.
*At halftime, Tech has 247 total yards, 140 through the air and 107 on the ground. TSU has 217 total yards, 144 passing and 73 rushing.
*Lamb has completed 15 of 22 passes for 140 yards, Dontey Gay is Tech's leading rusher, carrying six times for 41 yards and a touchdown. The Golden Eagles' leading receiver is Tim Benford with seven catches for 83 yards.
*TSU quarterback Mike German has completed 10 of 15 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Trabis Ward has carried 13 times for 51 yards and a score while Calvin McNairl leads TSU in receiving with three catches for 73 yards.
*Sharp's 49-yard field goal is the longest since Justin Kramer hit a 51-yarder in 2008.

Third Quarter --
*TSU will begin the second half with the ball at their own 39 yard line.
*German completes 4-yard pass to Devin Wilson for a TSU first down at the 49.
*Dante Thomas finds a big hole up the middle for a 17 yard run and a TSU first down at the TTU 34.
*German completes a 19 yard pass to Jeremy Pryor for yet another TSU first down at the Tech 15 yard line.
*German scores on the quarterback keeper from nine yards out, Godfrey adds the PAT to give TSU a 35-20 lead with 11:27 left in the quarter. 8-play drive, 61 yards, 3:27
*TSU has converted seven of its nine third down attempts.
*Tech will begin its drive at its own 23 yard line.
*Dontey Gay fumbles on a run up the middle, recovered by TSU's Rico Council. Fumble forced by Holt Claiborne. Tigers take over at Tech 23 yard line.
*Dante Thomas runs through a hole in the left side and into the end zone untouched from 15 yards out. Touchdown TSU and PAT makes the score 42-20 with 10:28 left in the quarter.
*Tech begins its drive at its own 37 yard line.
*Adam Urbano carries for a hard-fought first down on a two-yard carry to the TTU 48.
*Lamb connects with Ziegler down the right sideline for a 13-yard pass and another TTU first down to the TSU 39-yard line.
*Offensive line gives Lamb plenty of time to find Charlie Stevens over the middle for a 16-yard pickup to the TSU 25 yard line, where it's first and 10 Golden Eagles.
*Lamb's pass intended for Benford into the end zone on 3rd and 18 broken up. 4th and 18 for Tech from the TSU 33.
*Golden Eagles go for it on fourth down, Lamb goes deep once again, this time pass is intercepted by TSU's Steven Godbolt at the 5-yard line, where Tigers take over with 6:48 left to play in the quarter.
*Tra'Darius Goff breaks up German pass on third down, forcing TSU to 4th and 3 from their own 13 yard line.
*Big punt return by Tech's Demetrous Garrett all the way to the TSU 19 yard line, where Golden Eagles take over.
*Gay carries six yards off right tackle for the first down to the TSU 5 yard line.
*Lamb pass to Ziegler is incomplete, broken up by TSU's Daniel Fitzpatrick at the goal line, forcing 4th and 14.
*Sharp connects on this third field goal of the evening, this one from 31 yards out. TSU leads 42-23 with 3:14 left to play in the quarter.
*TSU's drive will begin at its own 18 yard line.
*German 13-yard pass complete to Jeremy Pryor for a TSU third down conversion to their own 37 yard line.
*Ryan Berry fumbles on the run, recovered by Tech's Howard Griffin. Fumble forced by Dwight Evans. TTU takes over at the TSU 46 yard line.
*Lamb completes 11 yard pass over middle to Ziegler for a first down to the TSU 34 yard line.
*At end of third quarter, Tech holds ball 2nd and 10 at TSU 34 trailing 42-23.

Fourth Quarter --
*Lamb dumps off pass to Urbano for a Tech third-down conversion down to the TSU 19.
*TSU called for pass interference on attempt from Lamb to Benford in the end zone. Ball moves to TSU 4, first down Golden Eagles.
*Another pass interference call on TSU on Benford in the end zone. First down TTU at 2 yard line.
*Touchdown Tech! Charlie Stevens hauls in two-yard pass from Lamb. With PAT, Tech trails 42-30 with 13:52 remaining to play.
*Travis James returns kick for TSU to the 36, where the Tigers start their drive.
*Incomplete pass forces TSU 4th and 6 from own 34. Big return by Demetrous Garrett to the Tech 39 yard line, where the Golden Eagles take over with 12:08 left to play.
*Gay carries tackler with him en route to first down at the Tech 49 yard line. Gain of 10 yards.
*Lamb 21-yard pass is complete to Ziegler to the TSU 30 yard line. First down Golden Eagles.
*Gay finds a hole up the middle, breaks a tackle for a 16 yard gain to the TSU 14 and a Tech first down.
*Lamb just misses Ziegler on a third down attempt into the end zone. Golden Eagles face 4th and 5 from the TSU 9 yard line.
*Sharp connects on 26 yard attempt for his fourth field goal of the night. TSU leads 42-33 with 9:42 left to play.
*Blake Adams brings down the TSU returner at the Tigers' own 12 yard line, where they'll start their drive.
*Marcus Edwards comes up with the third-down sack of the quarterback for Tech, forcing the Tigers to 4th and 5 from their own 18 yard line.
*Lamb pass to Alden Olverson and personal foul facemask penalty gives Tech back-to-back first downs and moves ball to the TSU 14, where Golden Eagles have first down with 6;49 left to play.
*Lamb sacked by Claiborne on 3rd down, forcing Tech into 4th and 20 from the TSU 20 yard line.
*Sharp can't connect on 42 yard attempt, TSU takes over at own 25 yard line.
*First down TSU on completion from German to Jeremy Pryor to the 38 yard line.
*Tech has 30 first downs on the night, the third-most in school history. The record is 32 in 1976 against Nebraska-Omaha.
*TTU has called back to back timeouts with 3:31 left, and TSU faces 3rd and 7 from its own 42.
*Will Johnson recovers TSU fumble at Tech 21 yard line. Golden Eagles take over with 2:47 left to play.
*Lamb completes 13-yard pass to Henry Rodgers for a Tech first down at the 34.
*Another first down on a completion from Lamb to Benford on the left sideline to the 46 yard line. 1:59 left to play.
*Lamb hits Benford again over the middle for a 17 yard gain to the TSU 37. First down Tech.
*It's Lamb to Benford again for another first down to the TSU 27.1:39 to play.
*Lamb is 32 for 52 for 312 yards, his first career 300-yard game. Timeout on the field with 1:31 remaining, Tech facing 3rd and 18 from the 35.
*Holding penalty called on TSU on 4th and 24, automatic first down puts Tech at 31 with 53 seconds left to play.
*Lamb completes 26-yard pass to Tilghman to the TSU 10 yard line. First down with 27 seconds remaining.
*Tech has 36 first downs on the night, an all-time single game record.
*Lamb hits Ziegler in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown pass with 15 seconds remaining. TSU leads 42-39 with PAT pending.
*Kick is good. TSU leads 42-40 with 15 seconds remaining.
*Tech onside kick attempt fails. Ball did not travel 10 yards despite being recovered by Tech. TSU ball at Tech 39 with 14 seconds remaining.
*Final score: TSU 42, Tech 40