COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech battled to the finish in front of a spirited Homecoming crowd Saturday, but league-leading Eastern Illinois used a couple a big scoring plays to pull out a 31-24 Ohio Valley Conference victory.
EIU quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 376 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Panthers (6-3/5-1 OVC). Among his tosses were a 61-yard touchdown to Chavar Watkins in the second quarter and a 73-yard touchdown to Chris Wright late in the third quarter that gave EIU the lead that it never relinquished.
Golden Eagle sophomore quarterback Darian Stone, making just the second start of his career, accounted for 272 yards of offense including a career-high 119 rushing yards on 20 carries. He became just the second TTU quarterback to carry the ball for 100 yards in a game and the first in 21 seasons. Stone also passed for 153 yards including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Da'Rick Rogers in the third quarter that tied the contest at 17-17.
Garoppolo was 27-for-41 for 376 yards while throwing one interception. He was sacked once. Stone was 22-for-43 with one interception, and was not sacked.
Defensively, Gourdan Wickliffe topped EIU with 13 total tackles and one interception, which he returned 28 yards. Robert Haynes added 12 tackles for the Panthers. For Tech, sophomore Tra'Darius Goff was the top tackler with 12 while James Huguely added 11 tackles along with his first career interception. Austin Tallant also reached double digits in tackles to Tech with 10.
The Golden Eagles host one final game in Tucker Stadium next week when UT Martin visits for a 1:30 p.m. contest. That game will be Senior Day as Tech recognized the careers of its 19 senior players. It will also be Military and Public Safety Appreciation Day, and Scout Day.
Call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940) for ticket information.
* Tennessee Tech and Eastern Illinois will face off for the 19th time in this series, with the Panthers owning a 12-6 advantage.
* In last season's game, Tech won 31-20 in Charleston, Ill.
* The Panthers own a share of the OVC lead with a 4-1 record in conference play this season.
* In addition to homecoming, today is also the Hall of Fame game as Tech inducted four former athletes into the Tech Hall of Fame last night: Kenneth Fults, Janet Holt-Baker, Randy Smith, and Grant Swallows.
* Sophomore quarterback Darian Stone will make his second career start.
* The captains for the Golden Eagles are Hunter Beedle, Jordan Adams, LaDarrius Verge, and Tremaine Hudson.
* Tech won the toss and will receive to start the game.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES:
* The Golden Eagles are driving to start the game as they gain another first down and are now inside the EIU 20-yard line.
* TOUCHDOWN!!!! Junior running back Doug Page squeaks into the endzone on fourth and one to give the Golden Eagles a 7-0 lead with 9:18 to go in the first quarter.
* The Tech defense holds on fourth down and the Golden Eagles take over on their own 40-yard line.
* The offense is rolling again, picking up two first downs and looking to creep into the redzone for the second time today.
* Another first down. Stone is running well today. He already has 40 yards on the ground as the Golden Eagles are now in scoring range again.
* Sophomore kicker Zach Sharp nails a 32-yard field goal!
* The Golden Eagles now lead 10-0 with 1:39 to go in the first quarter.
* At the end of the first quarter, Tennessee Tech leads Eastern Illinois 10-0.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES:
* Eastern Illinois will go for it on fourth down and one at the Tech four-yard line.
* AND THEY HOLD THE PANTHERS!!! Tech takes over on their own four-yard line after stopping EIU on fourth down.
* Great coverage by senior defensive back Will Johnson on the Tech punt, limiting a dangerous EIU return game to no yards.
* Junior punter Chad Zinchini is averaging 55 yards on two punts today to add to his already impressive OVC-leading average of 44.7 yards per kick.
* EIU gets on the board with a 61 yard completion to senior receiver Chavar Watkins.
* Tech still leads 10-7 with 8:16 to go in the first half.
* SACK!!! Senior defensive end Tommie McBride and junior linebacker Malcolm Mitchell gain up for a sack on EIU's Jimmy Garoppolo.
* At the end of the first half, the Golden Eagles lead 10-7 over the Panthers.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES:
* Eastern Illinois scores and now lead 14-10 with 11:43 to go in the third quarter.
* The Golden Eagles gamble on fourth down and are stopped just short. EIU takes over at the Tech 43.
* The Tech defense holds the Panthers and they will be forced to attempt a 19-yard field goal.
* It's good. EIU leads 17-10 with 8:03 to go in the third quarter.
* Huge gain by Darian Stone; he picks up 19 yards on the ground to move the Golden Eagles into the redzone.
* TOUCHDOWN!!!! Darian Stone hooks up with junior receiver Da'Rick Rogers for a Golden Eagle score.
* Score is now tied 17-17 with 4:56 to go in the third quarter.
* Rogers is now one TD reception shy of the single-season school record of 10 held by three players.
* The Panthers score on a long pass to Chris Wright. EIU leads 24-17 with 4:12 remaining in the third quarter.
* INTERCEPTION!!!! Sophomore defensive back James Huguely picks off Jimmy Garoppolo and the Golden Eagles take over on the EIU 38-yard line.
* The pick marks the first of Huguely's career.
* At the end of the third quarter, EIU leads Tech 24-17.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES:
* Tech is driving to open the fourth quarter, following a 22-yard run by Stone on the final play of the third quarter. A personal foul penalty on EIU gives Tech a first down at the Panther 39, and Stone hits Rogers for a 12-yard gain and another first down at the 27. Holding called on Tech, and on second-and-19, Stone's pass over the middle is intercepted at the 14 by Wickliffe and returned to the 42.
* The Panthers march 58 yards in six plays with Duncan bursting up the middle for a 31-17 lead with 10:26 remaining.
* Another personal foul call on EIU and the Panthers kick from their own 20. Vanlier returns the kick to the Tech 45.
* Tech picks up four first downs, with Stone and Doug Page handling most of the carries. A pass interference call in the end zone puts Tech at the two, and Page plows in for his second TD of the afternoon. Sharp's kick makes it 31-24 to play. Tech's drive went a long way, using 17 plays to move 55 yards and lasted 7:50.
* Tech's onsides kick attempt is recovered by EIU at the Tech 47. The Panthers get a first down and are able to run out the clock.