Golden Eagles begin defense of OVC title with road game at SEMO

Golden Eagles begin defense of OVC title with road game at SEMO

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Defense of the OVC title begins Saturday night for the Tennessee Tech football team when the Golden Eagles open conference play in a 6 p.m. game at Southeast Missouri. It's the first time Tech goes into a conference opener as defending champ in 36 years.

For the first time since their conference opener back in 1976, the Golden Eagles will play an Ohio Valley Conference contest in defense of the league crown. After taking the 1975 OVC title, Tech’s first game back in the league in 1976 resulted in a 24-7 win against Murray State.

This year’s Golden Eagle squad (2-1) is hoping for similar success, but must do so on the road against a Redhawk unit that won the OVC crown in 2010 and is out to avenge a late, 38-31 loss in Cookeville last time around. Tech has won five of the last six meetings with SEMO and owns a 12-8 all-time advantage in the series. However, SEMO claimed a victory on its home turf the last time the two met in Missouri.

The Golden Eagles look to rebound following a 63-14 loss at No. 4 Oregon last Saturday. SEMO, meanwhile, is also hoping to bounce back after suffering a 35-14 setback at Southern Illinois.

It’s been an interesting conflict in styles through the first three weeks for these two teams; the Golden Eagles rank high in the OVC in several passing categories
while SEMO is among league leaders on the ground.

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (2-1, 0-0 OVC)
at Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (1-2, 0-0 OVC)
Saturday, Sept. 22 • 6:00 p.m. CT
Houck Stadium (10,000) • Cape Girardeau, Mo.
TV:................................................... OVC Digital Network
Live Stats:
Series Record:........................ Tennessee Tech leads 12-8
Last Meeting:............. Tennessee Tech won 38-31 (9/24/11)
Watson Brown at Tennessee Tech:................ 27-32 (6 yrs.)
Watson Brown Overall:......................... 121-183-1 (28 yrs.)
Tony Samuel at Southeast Missouri:............. 26-45 (7 yrs.)
Tony Samuel Overall:................................ 60-102 (15 yrs.)
Tennessee Tech Last Week:............. L, 63-14 at #4 Oregon
Southeast Missouri Last Week: L, 35-14 at Southern Illinois
GAME NOTES: Tennessee Tech will travel to Southeast Missouri on Saturday night for the 21st all-time meeting between the two schools. TTU has won five of the last six in the series including a season ago when they won 38-21. In that game Tre Lamb completed 27-of-37 passes for 283 yards and a touchdown while Dontey Gay rushed for 146 yards and two scores. The Redhawks were led by Levi Terrell, who carried the ball 15 times for 154 yards (10.3 ypc) and three touchdowns.

After starting the season with a pair of victories, Tennessee Tech suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday, losing at No. 4 Oregon from the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). The Golden Eagles scored the first points of the game, following a fumbled punt return, as Tre Lamb hit Da’Rick Rogers for a 23-yard touchdown pass early in the first quarter. It marked the first touchdown against Oregon in the first quarter of a game this season. But it would take the Ducks just a minute to tie the score and a halftime the home team led 35-7 on its way to the 63-14 victory. Overall Tech netted two interceptions (Howard Griffin and Taylor Hennigan) and blocked a field goal on the afternoon. Tra’Darius Goff topped the defense with nine tackles and also blocked a punt while freshman William Dillard had eight tackles and broke up a pass. Sophomore Stephen Bush led the TTU rushing attack, netting a career-high 63 yards and 14 carries. Lamb finished the game 8-of-13 for 46 yards and his touchdown while being intercepted once and sacked five times. Despite the rough day Lamb still ranks fourth nationally in passing efficiency (172.64) this season. Rogers has now caught a touchdown pass in each of his first three games in a Golden Eagle uniform. Junior punter Chad Zinchini tied the Tennessee Tech record with 12 punts and broke the program mark with 492 punt yards. Included in that total was a career-long 62 yard punt; he finished the game averaging 41.0 yards/punt.
SCOUTING SOUTHEAST MISSOURI: The Southeast Missouri defense netted four takeaways against Southern Illinois on Saturday and have now forced multiple turnovers in five-straight games dating back to last season. Through three games this season the Redhawks rank first nationally in turnovers gained (13), second in turnover margin (+2.67/game), second in passes intercepted (7) and fourth in fumbles recovered (6). Despite the turnovers Southeast lost 35-14 at regional rival Southern Illinois. Senior linebacker Blake Peiffer had 18 tackles in the loss, the most tackles by an OVC player in a game this season, and one shy of the most by a FCS player this season. Peiffer, who is on the Buck Buchanan Award Watch List, has posted double-digit tackles for the first time this season and 12th time in his career. Teammate Branden Spann had the first career interception and fumble recovery of his career in the game. Junior punter Joe Vucic punted a career-high nine times for a 45.3 yards/punt average. Three of his punts went inside the SIU 20-yard line and two were downed inside the 5-yard line. He had a long of 53 yards on the night and currently ranks first in the OVC and seventh nationally with a 44.5 yards/punt average this season.