By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Junior quarterback Luke Ward earned his first start of the season and tried to make the most of it on Saturday, leading the Tennessee Tech football team to a close 35-28 defeat to Austin Peay in the Golden Eagles' annual Homecoming contest.
Ward ended the game with 173 yards on 14-of-25 passing with touchdown passes to Jerome Wright and Dontez Byrd. Ward was selected as the First National Bank of Tennessee-Special Olympics Player of the Game.
However, the visiting Governors (6-4, 5-1 Ohio Valley Conference) head back to Clarksville with the Sergeant York Trophy in hand for the first time. Austin Peay tied for the inaugural trophy, but Tennessee State won it by a tiebreaker in 2007.
The Governors did by rolling up 423 yards rushing on 57 carries, led by Ahmaad Tanner with 104 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown, while Kyran Moore (88 yards) and Tre Nation (71 yards) also had scoring runs.
The Govs had 522 yards of offense on 71 plays to Tech's 274 on 50.
APSU freshman quarterback Jeremiah Oatsvall passed for 72 yards on 6-for-13 passing.
In Tech's scoring, Andrew Goldsmith, who had 43 yards on the ground to lead the Golden Eagles, ran for a 10-yard touchdown to tie the game in the first quarter.
Wright caught a 15-yard TD pass from Ward late in the third, then Byrd caught his 23-yard score with 12:24 remaining in the contest.
Byrd ended the game with four catches for 56 yards. He now stands at 885 yards on 60 catches, 14 catches and 48 yards short of tying his school records set last season with two games remaining to play.
Defensively, Andrew Swicegood was able to get Tech on the scoreboard late in the fourth quarter, picking up a fumble and running it back 80 yards for a touchdown to make it a 35-28 game with 1:18 remaining.
The Golden Eagles (1-8, 1-5 OVC) drop to 32-19 against the Governors and 46-40-1 on Homecoming.
Tech returns to action next week as the Golden Eagles hit the road for the final time in 2017 as they travel to Murray State on Saturday. Kickoff is at 1 p.m.
Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information