Special events featured Saturday as Golden Eagles host APSU in finale

Special events featured Saturday as Golden Eagles host APSU in finale

Click here to download/read TTU game notes vs. Austin Peay (PDF)

By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- The final game of the season can be emotional enough, but toss in the fact that it's the final game in the careers of the senior players, and there is added incentive for a team — as well as distractions.

For Tennessee Tech, a dozen seniors will be recognized in pregame ceremonies Saturday as they don the Purple & Gold (actually, Saturday it's the Purple & Camo) for the final time. For some, there will be more football in the future, but for several, this is it.

That fact sinks in at different times for different players. For some, it will be during the pregame when they are escorted onto the field by family members. For some, it will be after the game, in the dressing room when coach Watson Brown talks to the team. For some, it won't happen for a few days, and for others it might come right in the middle of making a tackle in the third quarter.

But it will hit all of them. And their families. So, fans at the game will have a chance to express their gratitude to each of those 12 seniors for all they have meant to the Golden Eagle football program, including an Ohio Valley Conference championship in 2011 and hundreds of hours of practice, weights, study halls, meetings and travel.

As for Saturday's game itself, the Golden Eagles can end the season with a bit of momentum by closing on a two-game win streak. The Governors, meanwhile, are simply hoping to break into the win column for the first time in 2013.

Tech comes into the game following an open weekend, with its latest action being a 41-16 win at Southeast Missouri on Nov. 9.

Austin Peay's last encounter was also against Southeast Missouri, as the Govs dropped a 36-34 decision last Saturday in Austin Peay's Senior Day game.

Tech seeks a little payback from last season when Austin Peay was a rude host in the season finale, jumping out to a surprising 31-0 lead before holding on for a 38-31 victory in Clarksville. 

Saturday's game will mark the 48th meeting between Tech and Austin Peay on the football field. Tennessee Tech owns a 28-18-1 advantage in the all-time series with Austin Peay, winning three straight before the Govs claimed the contest a year ago. Since APSU returned to the OVC in 2007, the teams are dead-even with three wins apiece:

1938: Tech 28-0
1939: Tech 25-0
1954: Tech 27-13
1955: Tech 37-7
1956: Tech 17-7
1963: Tech 28-13
1964: APSU # 29-0
1965: APSU 23-12
1966: APSU 20-15
1968: Tech 38-13
1969: Tech 56-20
1970: APSU 10-6
1971: Tech 37-12
1972: Tech 19-7
1973: Tech 31-12
1974: Tech 28-7
1975: Tech 20-0
1976: Tech 31-13
1977: APSU 24-21
1978: Tech 28-14
1979: APSU 21-14
1980: APSU 13-10
1981: Tech 29-24
1982: APSU 31-27
1983: APSU 21-7
1984: APSU 27-7
1985: APSU 24-20
1986: APSU 23-13
1987: Tech 14-9
1988: APSU 10-6
1989: Tech 17-15
1990: Tech 20-14
1991: Tech 32-7
1992: Tech 10-0
1993: Tech 35-17
1994: APSU 34-27
1995: APSU 20-17
1996: Tech 23-17
1997: Tech 36-3
2007: APSU 30-27
2008: APSU 31-28
2009: Tech 31-23
2010: Tech 34-21
2011: Tech * 49-7
2012: APSU 38-31
* denotes Tech's largest margin of victory
# denotes APSU's largest margin of victory

Saturday's game will be Military and Public Safety Appreciation Day, as well as Scout Day in Tucker Stadium.

The 2013 senior class lists 12 players (literally from A to Z), including a few fifth-year seniors and three graduate students (James Normand, Lamar Moore and Zack Ziegler, who received their degrees in May). Tech's senior class includes, in alphabetical order: Blake Adams, Bud Golden, Jordan Johnson, Jerry King, Cory McDonald, Seth McDonald, Malcolm Mitchell, Lamar Moore, James Normand, Wesley Sherrill, Zach Ziegler, and Chad Zinchini.

The Golden Eagle defense brings the top two tacklers in the Ohio Valley Conference into the tilt. Junior linebacker Tra'Darius Goff currently ranks first in the OVC with 96, an average of 8.7 per game. Ranking second this week is junior saftey Marty Jones with 91, an average of 8.1 per game. Tech has four more tacklers in the top 25 in the league, with Austin Tallant 21st, Jay Rudwall 23rd, Bill Dillard and Blake Adams tied for 24th.

The Golden Eagle projected starting lineup for Saturday's game is not the same projected starting lineup as the season opener, 12 weeks ago. On offense, in fact, only four starters are the same, and six starters are gone due to injuries. The offensive starting lineup against APSU is missing Matt Martin, Parker Teeter, Cody Matthews, Zack Ziegler, and Bud Golden, all of whom were projected starters for the Cumberland contest on Aug. 29. The only players in the same spots as that depth chart are James Normand, Jibrin Linge, Krys Cates and Darian Stone. On defense,  seven starters on Saturday's depth chart are the same as the starters listed for the opener.

Junior quarterback Darian Stone appeared to be back at full strength in Tech's 41-16 win at Southeast Missouri on Nov. 9. Stone accounted for 297 yards of offense, rushing for 162 yards on 29 carries and three touchdowns and passing for another 135 yards. It was Stone's biggest game of the year, and most rushing yards since his 190 yards against UT Martin exactly one year earlier (Nov. 10, 2012).

Stone has pushed his career rushing total over 1,000 yards. He has now rushed for 1,003 yards on 211 carries in three seasons. Stone leads Tech in rushing this season with 370 yards on 119 carries. Stone has gained 550 yards, but has lost 180 on sacks to account for his season total. Stone led Tech in 2012 with 553 yards on 89 carries. He had 80 yards on three carries as a redshirt freshman in 2011.

Stone is averaging 117 yards per game rushing in his apperances during the month of November in three seasons. He didn't play in November as a redshirt freshman in 2011. In 2012, his November games netted him 119 yards against Eastern Illinois, 190 vs. UT Martin, and 102 vs. Austin Peay. This season, he had 12 yards at EIU, and 162 at SEMO. He has topped 100 yards in four of his five November games, being held to just 12 yards at No. 2 Eastern Illinois earlier this year.  In those four 100-yard efforts, he is averaging 133 yards per game on the ground.
Stephen Bush is third on the team in rushing with 247 yards on 53 carries, an average of 4.7 per try.  He posted a career-high 76 yards on 13 carries and scored two touchdowns at SEMO on Nov. 9. Bush has now accounted for 407 career rushing yards. Cody Forbes is fourth on the team in rushing with 238 yards on 67 carries, an average of 3.6 per carry. He opened the year with a career-high 69 yards on eight carries against Cumberland, than raised that barrier against Hampton when he rushed for 73 yards on 19 carries (both career-high numbers). Forbes has 482 career rushing yards.

Sophomore Krys Cates has caught at least one pass in all 11 games this season, and owns a team-leading 368 yards on 25 catches.He grabbed touchdown passes in three consecutive games (EKU, JSU, EIU). After posting four catches for 47 yards last year, he now has 29 career receptions for 415 yards and four touchdowns.

Eric Belew caught a pair of touchdown passes from Jared Davis at No. 2 Eastern Illinois, his first scores since catching a 41-yard TD from Darian Stone at Tennessee State in 2012. He also picked up a fumble and carried it 39 yards, giving him a total of 72 receiving yards against the Panthers. He now has 13 catches for 157 yards this season, and 19 career catches for 220 yards.

Jordan Smith caught a career-high six passes for 68 yards to lead the Golden Eagles at Southeast Missouri.
Three offensive linemen have been regulars in the starting lineup, led by senior center James Normand who has started in 35 consecutive games. He started the final two games of the 2010 season, and has been in the starting lineup in all 33 games during the past three years. Senior Wesley Sherrill has also started in 35 consecutive career games (in the last 40) in which he played. He started five as a freshman, 11 as a sophomore, eight  as a junior and all 11 this year. He has missed five games due to injuries during that stretch.  Sohomore Jibrin Linge has started the last 18 games.

Goff ranks first in the OVC with 96 total tackles, an average of 8.7 per game. At No. 2 Eastern Illinois, he had six tackles and forced a fumble. Goff has reached double figures in tackles five times this season, including a career-best 16 tackles against Jacksonville State. He needs four tackles to reach 100 for the season, and become the first Golden Eagle with back-to-back 100-tackle seasons since Daniel Wentzel in 1992 (132) and 1993 (105). Goff led Tech in total tackles in 2012 with 101, the first Tech tackler to top 100 since Corey Reed in 2008. 

Marty Jones was voted the OVC Defensive Player of the Week following his performance in Tech's 41-16 win at Southeast Missouri, Nov. 9. In that contest, Jones had five total tackles, an interception and forced a fumble. He was also named honorable mention FCS Defensive Player of the Week by USA College Football.  He ranks second in the OVC in tackles and 10th in interceptions.
Jones ranks second on the team and second in the OVC with 91 total tackles, an average of 8.3 per contest.  Against Jacksonville State he made 10 tackles including 2.5 tackles-for-loss. At EKU, he had seven tackles and recovered a fumble. Against UT Martin, he had 14 tackles and recovered a fumble. He made 10 tackles at No. 21 Wisconsin, seven at Hampton and eight against Tennessee State. Against Indiana State, he piled up a career-high 16 tackles.

Jones has two interceptions this season, giving him eight career picks, tops among all active players. He nabbed his first interception of the year in the game at Murray State. 

Freshman Jordan Patrick has taken over the starting role at a defensive end spot, and had his biggest game at Southeast Missouri (Nov. 9) with a team-leading six tackles, including a quarterback sack and 1.5 tackles-for-loss. In his rookie season he has 35 total tackles.

Malcolm Mitchell had an impressive performance in Tech's 41-16 win at SEMO (Nov. 9) with four total tackles, a quarterback sack, 2.0 tackles-for-loss and a fumble recovery.

Mitchell leads the team this season and ranks third in the OVC in quarterback sacks (6.5). He also tops Tech and ranks ninth in the league in tackles-for-loss (10.0). He is also ninth in fumbles recovered. Mitchell is tops among active players with 8.0 quarterback sacks, and ranks first on the team in career tackles-for-loss with 13.0.

Punter Chad Zinchini continues to lead the OVC and rank second nationally in punting average, at 45.9 yards per kick in 72 punts. He is on course to break his own school season record, set last year, with an average of 44.8 yards per kicks. He has 27 kicks of 50 yards or more, and has had 18 of his kicks downed inside the opponent 20-yard line.