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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The hunt for the 2012 Sgt. York Trophy begins Saturday for Tennessee Tech when the Golden Eagles visit the campus of Tennessee State to face the Tigers in historic Hale Stadium. Tennessee State is ranked No. 21 in both the Sports Network and FCS Coach's Polls.
The Golden Eagles (2-5) are looking to end a five-game losing streak following a 42-28 loss to Eastern Kentucky in Tucker Stadium last week.
Tennessee State (7-1), meanwhile, looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season, a heart-breaking, 31-28 decision in overtime at Jacksonville State.
Tennessee State captured a 42-40 victory in Cookeville last year, after Tech had won the previous two years. The Tigers have held the edge of late, despite those two Golden Eagle wins – TSU has won six of the last eight games.
While Tech ranks third in the OVC in scoring with 32.2 points per game, the Golden Eagle attack will be severly tested by the top-ranked defense in the conference.
Tennessee State is allowing a paltry 18.2 points per game. The Tigers also rank first in total defense, yielding 350 yards per game, and first in pass defense, allowing 208 yards per game and only eight passing touchdowns in eight games.
While quarterback Michael German directs the attack, the Tigers' top weapon has been Trabis Ward, the league's top rusher. He ranks first, averaging 134.5 yards per game with 14 touchdowns.
The Tigers have two top receivers. Travis James has 34 catches for 482 yards and three touchdowns, while A.C. Leonard has made 29 catches for 426 yards and three touchdowns.
Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (2-5, 0-4 OVC)
at #21 Tennessee State Tigers (7-1, 3-1 OVC)
Saturday, Oct. 27 • 1:00 p.m. CT
Hale Stadium (15,000) • Nashville, Tenn.
TV:................................................... OVC Digital Network
Live Stats:......................................... http://bit.ly/Sha0NG
Series Record:...................... Tennessee State leads 15-10
Last Meeting:.......... Tennessee State won 42-40 (10/15/11)
Watson Brown at Tennessee Tech:................ 27-36 (6 yrs.)
Watson Brown Overall:......................... 121-187-1 (28 yrs.)
Rod Reed at Tennessee State:...................... 15-15 (3 yrs.)
Rod Reed Overall:................................................... same
Tennessee Tech Last Week: L, 42-28 vs. #23 Eastern Kentucky
Tennessee State Last Week:. L, 31-28 at Jacksonville State
GAME NOTES: In-state rivals Tennessee State and Tennessee Tech will meet for the 26th time on Saturday. It marks the first game between the two teams at Hale Stadium on TSU's campus since the 1997 season (TSU won that game 28-21); since 1999 TSU has been playing all home games at LP Field but has returned to campus for three games this year. The Tigers have won six of the last eight in the series including a thrilling 42-40 game in Cookeville a season ago. In that game the No. 19 ranked Golden Eagles fell behind 42-20 early in the third quarter but scored the final 24 points of the game to lose by just two points. Michael German threw for two touchdowns and rushed for another for TSU while Tre Lamb passed for 348 yards and two scores and OVC Offensive Player of the Year Tim Benford had 10 catches for 122 yards. The game is a part of the annual Sgt. York Trophy series, competed for by the four OVC football-playing schools in the state of Tennessee. The teams shared the title a season ago but TSU won the tiebreaker and took home the actual trophy. TSU is 1-0 in Sgt. York games this season while this will be TTU's first Sgt. York game of the year.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE TECH: Tennessee Tech suffered its fifth-straight loss on Saturday, falling 42-28 to No. 23 Eastern Kentucky. The Golden Eagles led 28-20 with 14:49 to go when Da'Rick Rogers caught his third touchdown pass of the game. But the team could not hold on as EKU scored 22 unanswered points in the final 9:22. Rogers, who ranks ninth nationally in receiving yards/game (102.29), caught six passes for 76 yards and the three scores on the night. Quarterback Tre Lamb competed 18 passes for 283 yards and four touchdown passes in the game; he currently ranks 10th nationally in points responsible for (16.29 points/game). Tech did struggle running the ball against a tough EKU defense, as the team managed just 15 net yards. Defensively Austin Tallant led the Golden Eagles in tackles for the second-straight game, netting 17 strops while freshman William Dillard added 16 stops. Punter Chad Zinchini averaged 47.7 yards/punt on the night including a long of 46 yards.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE STATE: Tennessee State saw the end to its perfect season on Saturday, falling 31-28 in overtime at Jacksonville State. Despite the loss to Tigers are still 3-1 in OVC play and in a four-way tie atop the standings as four teams have one Conference loss on the season. TSU led 21-14 at halftime and after falling behind were able to tie the game at 28 early in the fourth quarter. Following that touchdown a wild series of events saw the Tigers recover a JSU fumble, only to throw an interception on the next play of the game; two plays later, however, JSU threw an interception giving the ball back to Tennessee State with 5:36 to play. The Tigers then went 45 yards in 14 plays, setting up a game-winning field goal attempt with one second to go. Jamin Godfrey made his first attempt but a false start penalty pushed it back five yards and his 47-yard attempt as time expired was wide. Godfrey then missed a 42-yard field goal (which came after TSU lost 13 yards on third down) in overtime, allowing JSU to set up its game-winning field goal; the misses were just the second and third of the season for Godfrey in 12 attempts. Junior running back Trabis Ward had 168 rushing yards and a touchdown and caught five three passes for 41 yards to finish with 209 all-purpose yards for the game. Ward ranks sixth nationally in rushing (134.5 yards/game). Quarterback Michael German passes for 311 yards and three touchdowns in the loss, but also threw two interceptions and was sacked four times. TSU slipped from 17th/18th to 21st in both FCS Top 25 polls this week.