By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – The result was not really ever in doubt, but that didn't stop the Tennessee Tech football team on Saturday.
Facing the University of Tennessee, the Golden Eagles were outmanned and outgunned by their Football Bowl Subdivision bigger brothers, but they were undeterred.
The 55-0 defeat? Not unexpected, especially from a Volunteer team that had something to prove after a three-game skid.
Tech (3-6) may have lost the day, but the experience gained will prove to be valuable down the line.
"We knew the issues we had going in," said Tech head coach Marcus Satterfield. "We knew the personnel advantage they had in every position. I thought we had a pretty good plan put together to try to attack that disadvantage, and we just wanted to come out and play as hard as we could, see what would happen and take care of the football. We did take care of the football for the most part. They just have a lot of speed outside, and it's hard to cover if they protect for two or three seconds, and it's hard for us to stay hip to hip with them in secondary. They made those big plays early. That really put us in the hole.
"I was really proud of our kids for continuing to play hard. We didn't care about the scoreboard. We just kept playing and tried to get plays when we could. We are always trying to win the game, but in the end, they never quit, which is huge. Moving forward, we have two good games coming up. They're conference games against Tennessee State and Murray State, so we can put this behind us, get back to Cookeville tonight and get ready to play Murray and Tennessee State next week."
In front of 98, 343 fans – the largest crowd for a Tech game in program history – the Golden Eagles also saw another best tied as Dontez Byrd matched the best tally for a Tech player in catches against an FBS opponent, tying the nine catches Brock McCoin had against Houston last season.
Byrd ended the game with 121 yards on nine catches.
"What you saw tonight is what he's been doing all year," Satterfield said. "He continues to get tougher as the season goes along. He had to make some one-on-one plays today, which were not easy. He had acrobatic catches against some really good defenders. Michael Birdsong did a great job of putting him in a place where he could locate it and go make a play on the ball, but that's what Byrd does. We'd like to get him some more carries with some jet sweeps moving forward, but at least we got the ball in his hands enough where he made somewhat of a difference, where we could get first downs and move the ball a little bit."
Offensively, Tech struggled, but that was much more the quality of opponent the Golden Eagles faced than miscues – though Tech did have its share of turnovers as well with one interception. Tech also turned the ball over six times on failed fourth-down conversions, but just twice in its own territory.
Numbers-wise, Tech put together 224 yards on 74 plays, while the Volunteers (6-3) had 471 yards on 52 plays.
Joshua Dobbs and Josh Malone hooked up for two quick scores – a 30-yd pass and a 43-yd pass – to put the Volunteers up quickly, then John Kelly closed out the first-quarter scoring with a 73-yard touchdown run.
Dobbs threw another touchdown strike to Jauan Jennings, then Carlin Fils-Aime ran for the first of his two touchdown runs. Aaron Medley put a 19-yard field goal through the uprights as the first half concluded, Tech trailing 38-0.
Fils-Aime ran for his second touchdown in the third quarter, then, in the fourth, Medley kicked a 42-yard field. Marquez Callaway put the final touchdown on the board, returning a punt 62 yards for a score.
Dobbs completed 12 of his 13 passes for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Quinten Dormady threw for 109 yards on 9-for-13 attempts in relief.
John Kelly ran for 104 yards on seven carries, while Malone caught five passes for 112 yards.
The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday as they hit the road for the last time this season as Tech travels to Tennessee State.