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By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Looking to finish the season strong, the Tennessee Tech football squad hits the road once again this weekend, this time facing Southeast Missouri in the Golden Eagles' final road contest of the 2013 season. Kickoff in SEMO's Houck Stadium is set for 1 p.m. CT.
It's a rivalry that doesn't roll back to the early decades of the 20th century like some of Tech's foes, but in the 21 meetings between the two schools, the rivalry has been intense and the games have been oh, so close.
In the past 10 meetings, only one game has had a difference of
more than one touchdown (12 points in 2009) with two contests going
to overtime. In the other nine of those past 10 games, the total
margin of difference has been 37 points, an average of 4.1 points
per game. There have been two two-point games, and three
The Golden Eagles own a narrow 12-9 advantage in the all-time series. Following a four-year winning streak by Tech, SEMO has won two of the last three, including a 41-38 double overtime victory last year in Cape Girardeau. It was the second overtime game in the series, with the Redhawks winning both times. Tech’s largest victory in the series came in 1992 when the Golden Eagles won by 35 points, 49-14. SEMO’s largest margin of victory was a 21-point difference (33-12) in 1995.
The schedule takes Tech back to Cape Girardeau for the second straight year. In last year’s meeting in Houck Stadium, the Golden Eagles and Redhawks locked up in a double overtime battle that SEMO won, 41-38. Wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers set school records in the game with 18 catches for 301 yards.
Saturday’s game is the final home game of 2013 for Southeast Missouri. SEMO will honor its seniors prior to the game. Saturday also marks Military Appreciation Day at SEMO. When Tech is home on Nov. 23 for its final home game of the year, it will also be Senior Day and Military Appreciation Day in Tucker Stadium.
Southeast Missouri closes out a three-game homestand on Saturday. The Redhawks have been at home since Oct. 26, facing Eastern Kentucky (Oct. 26) and Urbana University (Nov. 2). Southeast is 2-2 in Cape Girardeau this season.
Last weekend, the Redhawks scored two fourth quarter touchdowns en route to a 37-35 come-from behind win over NCAA Division II Urbana University. Southeast trailed by 14 points twice in the game before mounting its comeback. It marked the Redhawks second win by three or less points this season.
Meanwhile, the Golden Eagles dropped a 56-21 contest at No. 2 ranked Eastern Illinois last Saturday. Jared Davis threw three touchdown passes in the game, two of them to Eric Belew, while Patrick Prewitt (in photo above) got the ball twice via turnovers, first with an interception followed by a fumble recovery.
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 90, an average of 9.0 per game. Ranking second this week is junior saftey Marty Jones with 86, an average of 8.6 per game. Tech has four more tacklers in the top 27 in the league, with Bill Dillard and Blake Adams tied for 19th, Jay Rudwall 21st, and Austin Tallant 27th.
Goff needs 10 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.
For Southeast, quarterback Scott Lathrop ranks fifth in the OVC in both total offense and passing efficiency, and sixth in passing. His two top receivers both rank in the Top 10 in the league. Paul McRoberts ranks seventh and Spencer Davis is eighth. Leading the SEMO run game, DeMichael Jackson ranks ninth in the OVC. Defensively, Ben Kargbo ranks seventh in the league in tackles, Matt Starks is eighth and Wisler Ymonice is 14th.
Backup Golden Eagle quarterback Jared Davis is nearing the 1,000-yard mark this season. He has thrown for 935 yards with nine touchdowns and five interceptions this season, completing 56.2 percent of his passes (95-for-169). He has an efficiency rating of 114.34.
Ladarius Vanlier is the team’s leading rusher in 2013, gaining 357 yards on 52 carries, an average of 6.9 per carry. Against Hampton, sophomore Vanlier got his first start of the season and finished the game with 146 all-purpose yards. As a true freshman, Vanlier had 17 carries for 109 yards. In the opener against Cumberland, Vanlier had 51 yards in just two carries (25.5 yards per carry), including a 52-yard touchdown romp, the first rushing TD of his career. He rushed for a career-best 97 yards on 13 carries at Murray State.
Vanlier leads the team and ranks fourth in the OVC with 1,191 all-purpose yards, an average of 119.1 yards per game. He has 357 rushing yards, 27 receiving, 172 on punt returns and 635 on kick returns. His 1,191 all-purpose yards has him sitting just outside the top 10 for a single season. The ninth best season was 1,299 yards (Willie Queen in 1992) and the 10th best was 1,281 (Marshall Hale in 1990).
Sophomore wide receiver Krys Cates has moved to second on the team with 24 catches, good for 352 yrds and three touchdowns, both top numbers on the sqiuad. He grabbed a 15 yard TD pass at No. 2 Eastern Illinois.
Receiver Eric Belew caught a pair of touchdown passes from Davis at EIU, his first scores since catching a 41-yard TD from Darian Stone last year at Tennessee State. 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 12 catches for 152 yards.
Fans who cannot attend the game have several options to follow the action. There is a live in-game blog from the press box, a live radio broadcast on the Golden Eagle Sports Network (featuring Roger Ealey, Buddy Pearson and Dylan Vazzano), live stats provided by SEMO, and a live webstream on the OVC Digital Network.