Golden Eagle comeback falls just short at Austin Peay
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech fought back from a most frustrating first half and had the chance to tie or win in the final minutes after recovering an onsides kick, but couldn't clear the final hurdle in a surprising 38-31 loss at Austin Peay Saturday afternoon in Governors Stadium.
Down 31-0 at halftime after making myriad mistakes in the opening two quarters, the Golden Eagles pulled all the right switches in the second half and rallied to within one touchdown behind quarterback Darian Stone's efforts.
Jamel Cook recovered an onsides kick at the APSU 45 with 2:12 to play, and Stone moved his team to the 30. A holding penalty, a pair of false starts and a sack left Tech facing a third-and-32, and Stone & Co. ran out of miracles.
Tech finishes the year with a 3-8 overall record and a 1-7 mark in the OVC. Austin Peay nabbed its first OVC win to finish 2-9 overall and 1-7 in the league.
Stone earned his third 100-yard rushing game, the first Tech quarterback to do so, finishing with 102 yards on 22 carries. He was 20-for-40 for 245 passing yards and two touchdowns. Freshman Ladarius Vanlier had nine carries for a career-high 84 yards and Bud Golden added 11 carries for 56 yards. Doug Page had his third two-touchdown game, finishing with a team-leading eight rushing touchdowns.
Da'Rick Rogers grabbed six passes for 48 yards, including a touchdown to tie the school single-season record with 10 TD receptions. Vanlier had five catches for 77 yards. Neil Gannaway had three catches for 41 yards including his first career touchdown.
Zach Sharp tied his own school record when he made all four PAT kicks and finished with 46. Chad Zinchini also finished the year with a school record for highest punting average after kicking five times for a 46.8 average.
Austin Tallant led the defense with 10 tackles to finish the year with 94, while Tra'Darius Goff added seven to lead Tech with 101 stops.
Tech finished with 501 yards of offense, including 256 rushing, but was whistled for 13 penalties for 117 yards and lost three of six fumbles.
Quarterback Jake Ryan led APSU with 301 passing yards on 27-for-38 accuracy. Devin Stark caught nine balls for 94 yards and three touchdowns.
* The Golden Eagles have won the last three games in the series against Austin Peay, and own a 28-17-1 edge in the all-time series with the Governors. This will be the 47th meeting between the two in-state rivals.
* This is Tech's third game in the Sgt. York rivalry, and the Golden Eagles can win a share of the trophy for the third consecutive year with a victory (and a UT Martin victory over Tennessee State).
* Tech is wearing all white today; The familiar white helmet with the gold TTU logo on the side, plus the all-white uniforms introduced this year at the Oregon game. Austin Peay is decked out in all red, incuding helmets, jerseys and pants, with white trim.
* Today's game captans are seniors Marcus Edwards, Tommie McBride, Will Johnson and Slade Adams.
* Da'Rick Rogers needs 13 catches and 78 yards to tie school records for most in those categories (68 catches and 923 yards). He has nine touchdowns, needing one to tie that school record.
* Kicker Zach Sharp has made 53 consecutive PAT kicks (a school record). He is 42-for-42 this year, needing five to break his record set last year of 46 PATs in a season.
*Ladarius Vanlier has 32 kickoff returns, and needs more to tie the school record.
* Punter Chad Zinchini is averaging 44.6 yards per kick this year, which would break the school record of 44.5 yards per kick.
* Tech has won the coin toss and elected to receive to open the game.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES
* Opening kickoff and Tech loses the ball on a fumble at the 27-yard line. Tough way to start the game. The Govs kicked it away from Vanlier and Eric Belew had the return.
* On APSU's second down, the Tech defense forces a fumble and the Golden Eagles recover at their own 21. Play by two seniors -- fumble caused by LaDarrius Verge and recovered by Will Johnson.
* Third-and-two and Rogers catches a short pass over the middle, stopped short. Chad Zinchini's first punt goes for 41 yards and Tyler Clendenen returns it 24 yards to the Tech 42.
* Trick play works. Govs begin a sweep right, toss back to quarterback Jake Ryan who throws long down the middle for a 38-yard touchdown to Jamaar Embry. Kick makes it 7-0 with 12:30 to play in first quarter. William Dillard closes on the receiver quickly and appears to arrive in time, but miss knocking the ball down.
* Another Tech fumble on the kickoff return, but this time Belew is ruled down. Tech starts at its own 20. First down, Vanlier breaks free up the middle for a 41-yard gain to the APSU 40. Doug Page another big gain, but a holding penalty will stop it after a four-yard gain. Now first-and-16. Stone scrambles on third for 14, bringing up fourth-and-one at the 31. Page follows seniors Slade Adams and Michael Baker for a first down. Late flag after Stone rushes to the 17 and goes out of bounds for a first down. Personal foul called after Stone hit somewhere in the third lane of the running track encircling the field. First-and-goal at the eight. Tech stalls so Zach Sharp to attempt a 26-yard field goal -- misses wide right. Golden Eagle offense moved 75 yards on the possession.
* Govs march the length of the field, pick up a couple of first downs including a fourth-and-two, then score touchdown on a 16-yard run by Ean Pemberton. APSU leads 14-0 with 1:55 to play in the first quarter.
* Belew returns third straight kickoff, this time going 20 yards out to the Tech 35. So far, APSU doesn't want to have anything to do with Vanlier on kickoffs.
* Stone scrambles for a nine-yard pickup, but a flag is thrown 40 yards downfield. Sideline interference called on Tech bench. Penalty of 15 yards assessed back to the TTU 29. Third and long, Stone sacked. Zinchini will punt, but quarter will expire. End of first quarter, Tech trails, 14-0.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES
* First play of the quater is a 47-yard punt by Zinchini. First down, junnior Jerry King leaps and knocks down a pass attempt. Big stop on third down by Tech defense, forcing an APSU punt. Vanlier deep to receive, stands at the TTU 15. Very short punt, bounces backward and is downed at the TTU 35 for a 24-yard kick.
* False start before Tech gets its first play snapped. First-and-15 at the 30. Stone finds Rogers along right sideline for a nine-yard gain. Govs call timeout with 12:13 to play in the half.
* Tech facing another early third-down. Third-and-eight. Another false start on the Golden Eagles. Make it third-and 13. Pressure forces Stone to scramble, and he's stopped for no gain. Here's Zinchini for his third punt. Low kick bounces to the APSU 22. Kick is 47 yards and no gain on the return.
* First play, an 18-yard pass completion from Ryan to Stark. Flags everywhere. Refs pick up every flag except one - a personal foul on Lamar Moore for making the tackle without a helmet! First down APSU at the Tech 23. Ryan looks like he's sacked, but slips away and completes a 15-yard pass to the Tech eight. Wow, what else can go wrong for Tech?
* Senior Howard Griffin stops Reco Williams for a two-yard loss to the 10. Second-and-goal. Timeout called by APSU.
* Pass interference against Tech. First-and-goal at the five. Williams to inside the one. This time, Tra'Darius Goff, Will Johnson and Malcolm Mitchell stop Williams at the two. Third-and-goal, fade route left corner, Stark hauls in the touchdown pass from Ryan and Austin Peay is on top, 21-0, with 8:10 to play in the first half.
* Tech switches positions between Vanlier and Belew, and APSU kicks deep and through the end zone. Four kicks and Vanlier yet to touch the ball except a couple of early carries.
* Deadball pesonal foul on the Golden Eagles. Back it up to third-and-21 at the TTU 14. Yikes! Very, very uncharacteristic of Tech.
* Stone flushed out and rushes. Gains four, but Zinchini must punt. Kick is 57 in the air and five-yard return. APSU takes over with 6:45 to go in the half at its own 30. Screen pass to Oliver and he races down the sidelines for a 40-yard gain to the Tech 30.
* Jimmy Laughlin a tremendous defensive play knocks down a pass in the end zone, forcing a field goal try. Stephen Stansell makes a 43-yard kick to make 24-0 with 4:52 to go in the half.
* Zinchini is a busy man. Tech stopped on another third down try, so he kicks a 42-yard punt out of bounds at the APSU 22 with 3:02 remaining.
* Govs score again. Pass into the corner of the end zone and Devin Stark steals it away from the defender. Make it 31-0 Govs with 55 seconds left in the half.
* Stone hits Cody Matthews for a 21-yard pickup to the APSU 44. Two incomplete passes, its third down. Stone forced out of pocket, scrambles for a gain of about five and fumbles...out of bounds. five seconds left. Clock keeps running and goes to 0:00. Golden Eagles don't even get a chance to run a play. Coaching staff asking why? Officials say it's halftime, so it must be halftime. Most curious half of play!
THIRD QUARTER NOTES
* Tech defense stonewalls APSU on first possession of the half and forces punt. Tech begins at the TTU 29. Big gain for Vanlier, followed by a first-down run by Stone and Tech is quickly to the APSU 37. Golden Eagles look like their ready to play in the second half, but long, long road ahead.
* Touchdown. Doug Page follows left side of the line and block by Taylor Fletcher into the end zone from the one. Sharp's kick is good and it's 31-7 with 9:45 to play in the third.
* Peay faces third-and-eight. Howard Griffin makes the tackles and forces an APSU punt from the Gov 44. Vanlier back to receive, stands at the 16. JUST MISSED - Carter Crutchfield just misses blocking the punt, which is short.....but takes huge APSU bounce to the Tech 12. Uuuuggghhhhh!
* Stone rushes, fumbles. Austin Peay recovers at the TTU 23.
* Ryan throws into the end zone, two defenders on the spot but....touchdown. Stark makes the catch. APSU 38-7 lead with 6:54 to go in the third.
* Vanlier picks up another big gain, 36 yard rush to the Peay five yard line, 1st and Goal.
* TOUCHDOWN!!!! Rogers' on the fade route, ties school record with his 10th touchdown of the season.
* Tevin McDermott breaks up a third-down pass forcing Govenors to punt.
* Stansell's short punt bounces... and bounces.... and bounces... and goes 60 yards.
* Golden Eagle offense appears to be moving as third quarter ends.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES
* Vanlier flips to evade tackles and run 32 yards to give Tech another first down. Ball is on the Peay 18 yard line.
* Matthews spins towards the goal line for a 12-yard gain, First-and-goal at the one-yard line.
* Page powers off the left side... TOUCHDOWN TECH! Score is 38-21 with the extra point, 12:56 left. Sharp is now 45-for-45 on his PAT kicks, he needs just one more to tie his own school record of 46 PATs in one season. It's Tech's second touchdown in 6:06 span.
* FUMBLE!!! Tech recovers the ball at Peay's 36 yard line. Austin Tallant forced the fumble and Lamar Moore recovered for the Golden Eagles.
* Golden Eagles look to take advantage of the turnover, but fumble the ball, Peay recovers at its own 19-yard line. Oh, this one might come back to haunt Tech.
* Stone throws to Rogers for a 10-yard completion, giving Tech a first down. Page up the middle to move the chains as Tech is at the Peay 15-yard line. The clock is running with just over seven minutes to play.
* A false start by Tech is the 11th penalty for the Golden Eagles, over 100 yards in penalties.
* TOUCHDOWN TECH!! A pass to Neil Gannaway brings the Golden Eagles within 10. It's Gannaway's first career touchdown. Score now 38-28, 6:28 in the fourth. Zach Sharp ties his own school record with 46th extra points this season.
* Tech forces Peay to punt, and Vanlier has a brilliant return, spinning away from defenders at the sideline and racing all the way across the field. His 22-yard return shows why the Govenors have been trying to keep the ball away from him.
* The Golden Eagles storm up the field, but they're battling the clock with 2:46 left. Sharp kicks a 26-yard field-goal to bring Tech within a touchdown with 2:12 remaining.
* Tech has the onside kick with one heck of a bounce and Jamel Cook RECOVERS! TECH BALL ON THE PEAY 45! Perfect kick by freshman Chris Harris. Here we go!
* Stone to Rogers for a 14-yard completion, Tech first down at the APSU 30.
* Golden Eagles get called for holding, moving Tech back with 1:46 on the clock. 1st-and-19.
* Another false start moves Tech back even more, 2nd-and-25.
* Peay's defense sacks Stone, bringing Tech to 3rd-and-32 with only 1:34 on the clock. Incomplete as Ryan Tilghman makes a great catch but is ruled out of bounds. Game of inches.
* Tech does not convert on the fourth down, Peay gets the ball with 1:19 on the Golden Eagle 47 yard line and kneels to run out the clock and the season.