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August 20, 2011

Youngsters look to impress during team's second fall scrimmage

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – “This is a big day for a lot of you,” head coach Watson Brown told his players just before Tennessee Tech began its second scrimmage of fall camp Saturday afternoon in Tucker Stadium.

The scrimmage was the feature of Tech’s annual Gathering of Eagles, and hundreds of fans sat in the sun-soaked stands to watch the team as it hit the mid-point of camp in preparation for the season opener Sept. 3 at Iowa.

Brown wanted to take a good, long look at his second- and third-string groups during the 80-play session to help his staff make decisions about the depth chart for the game against the Hawkeyes.

Too bad the first-string hogged all the early playing time.

Junior quarterback Tre Lamb led the first unit on a pair of flawless 65-yard scoring drives in the first portion of the scrimmage, while the ‘two’s‘ and ‘three’s’ went three-and-out a couple times.

Lamb was 8-for-8 for 73 passing yards including a 16-yard touchdown toss to freshman Steve Wilson to cap off his group’s second possession. Lamb also rushed twice for 38 yards.

“It’s obvious there are a lot of things we need to sharpen up. There’s just not a smoothness, other than when Tre was in there. It was very smooth when Tre was in there. He’s playing really well right now.”

Brown was pleased with the effort, and attributed any rough spots to two stright weeks of hard work.

“It was a good effort,” Brown said. “Our players are tired. In my younger years I would leave this scrimmage every year and say ‘were awful.’ I’ve learned my lesson. They’re really, really tired and sore. They don’t have the quickness.

“We had a lot of people out. It was really a younger scrimmage because we had so many people out. This has been an unbelievably physical week. We have gone every day, full work, full pads. We need to start backing off a little now.”



The first unit moved 65 yards in 10 plays on the opening drive of the afternoon, including four carries for 16 yards by junior Adam Urbano. The transfer from Georgia Southern, who sat out last season, crashed into the end zone from the three  for the first score. Senior Charlie Stevens grabbed a couple passes of eight and nine yards in the drive.

After quarterbacks Ryan Tilghman and Darian Stone both met the same three-and-out fate, Lamb once again marched his group 65 yards, this time in 11 plays. The drive also had to overcome a pair of 1-yard holding penalties.  Stevens had another catch, while Demetrous Garrett accounted for 34 yards, including a 14-yard run and two receptions of 13 and seven yards.

Senior linebacker Matt Moran halted the next drive when he recovered a fumble, one of two turnovers.

Stone finally got his group moving, marching into the end zone from mid-field with Zach Salada finishing the possession with a one-yard touchdown. Two of the big plays were a 10-yard pass to Wade Plemons and a 21-yard strike to Matt Brown.

The final touchdown of the day came under Tilghman’s direction when he moved the offense 65 yards in 11 plays. Tilghman rushed for 35 yards in the drive while Dontey Gay carried it the final two yards for the score.

Twice Brown stopped potential touchdown drives inside the 10-yard line and called for the field goal unit.

On the first, Matthew Barker was good from 23 yards after Stone had moved the team 75 yards in 13 plays, including a 23-yard toss to Stephen Bush and a 15-yard hook-up with Cody Matthews.

Redshirt freshman James Huguely intercepted a Tilghman pass at the 30 to begin the next possession, but the quarterback was undaunted and came back to march the team 66 yards in nine plays to the four-yard line. On the first play, Tilghman broke free for what looked as though it would be a 70-yard touchdown, but the officials – asked to stop any play in which a quarterback might be at risk – whistled his run dead.  Instead, Salada carried the ball for 44 yards in four tries, and the team got to the shadow of the goal post before Brown summoned the field goal unit. This time, freshman Zach Sharp connected on a 21-yard field goal and the scrimmage was finished.

In all, the offenses piled up 439 yards of total offense, including 44 carries for 243 yards on the ground.  Salada was the top rusher in the scrimmage with seven carries for 52 yards. Tilghman had 42 yards in four carries and Lamb added 38 on two totes.  Gay finished with seven carries for 22 yards, Urbano had 16 on four carries, Ron Durbin rushed three times for 20 and Stephen Bush had three for 12 yards.

Stone was 11-for-19 for 105 yards while Tilghman was 3-for-7 for 18 yards.  Stevens was the top receiver with four catches for 28 yards, while Wilson had three catches for 28 yards and Bush had the same yardage in two catches.  Garrett and Matthews each had two catches for 20 yards.  In all, 14 different players caught passes and 12 different players had carries.

The two kickers were perfect, with both Barker and Sharp going 2-for-2 in PAT kicks and 1-for-1 on field goal tries.

Marty Jones, who left late in the scrimmage with an injury, was the defensive standout making eight tackles and blocking a punt. Will Johnson and true freshman Tra’Darius Goff each made five tackles and Seth McDonald made four stops.

Huguley, a redshirt freshman, had an interception and two tackles, and Moran also had two tackles along with his fumble recovery.  Senior Travis Adkins and freshmen Cory Webber and Josh Pleasant  had three tackles each, while both Dominick Baker and freshman Luke Woodason broke up a pass and made two tackles.

“The important thing now is all these young ones, we’ve got to make decisions,” Brown said. “We’ve got to make a depth chart now. Some freshmen, some redshirt freshmen, some sophomore are going to be there.  We just have to figure out where everybody is going to fit. We know the older kids and who’s going to be there. It’s these younger kids that we’ve got to make good decisions on.”

Season tickets to watch the Golden Eagles in 2011 are on sale at the Athletic Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be purchased online at TTUsports.