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Homecoming Memories: Tech downs Eastern Illinois in ‘04 overtime thriller

It’s Homecoming Week on the Tennessee Tech campus. No doubt it will be another memorable contest for the Golden Eagles, who are making a strong bid for their first Ohio Valley Conference championship since 1976. Tech and Murray State will square off Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Tucker Stadium. Because of the team’s current success and Top 25 rankings, Tech officials are anticipating one of the largest crowds in several years.

Tickets are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.

Not only did the Golden Eagles ruin OVC rival Jacksonville State’s Homecoming with a thrilling 21-14 victory last Saturday, Tech is now tied with JSU and Eastern Kentucky atop the OVC with 4-1 conference records.

With the level of importance of each of Tech’s remaining three games rising by the minute, there is no doubt that the Golden Eagles will leave behind some vivid new memories before it is all said and done.

The following is one in a series of stories recalling some of the most memorable Homecoming games of the past 20 years. Today’s memory is from 2004:

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Looking for great Homecoming memories? Tennessee Tech football fans will recall a nail-biting, overtime thriller during the 2004 Homecoming game against Eastern Illinois.

More than 8,000 fans witnessed the game as Tech spoiled a 21-point, fourth quarter Panther comeback  when Trey Bonnner’s seven-yard touchdown run in overtime proved to be the difference as the Golden Eagles won their sixth game of the season, 40-37.

EIU’s Matt Schabert rallied the Panthers for three touchdowns in an explosive five-minute span to force overtime, but the Golden Eagle defense was able to hold Eastern Illinois to a field goal in its opening drive in overtime.

While the Panther offense shined during the final 12 minutes of regulation, it was the Tech offense that took center stage during the first three quarters, as it built a 34-13 lead.

The TTU offense was led by quarterback Robert Craft who threw for 204 yards and a touchdown, while wide receiver Brent McNeal threw an 86-yard bomb to Antonio Minor for another touchdown.

The Golden Eagles managed 82 yards on the ground and were spurred by Bonner’s two touchdown runs.

TTU place kicker Josh Foster connected on a pair of field goals from 30 and 33 yards away.

Just when Tech fans throught things were in cruise control with the 21-point lead, the Panthers made things scary by rolling through their three-touchdown blitz to tie the game.