By Rob Schabert, Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Informatio
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Score one huge Homecoming victory for
the boys off the bench.
Backup quarterback Jared Davis replaced struggling starter Darian Stone and ignited Tennessee Tech's offense Saturday as the Golden Eagles rallied for a 27-26 victory over Southeast Missouri in Tucker Stadium.
The Golden Eagles also got a big lift when junior runningback Willie Davis (no relation) came off the bench to replace struggling starter Ladarius Vanlier. Davis provided several big rushes and led Tech's ground game, including the game-winning touchdown with 4:16 to play.
It was the second time in three weeks that a national audience on ESPN3 was treated to a Tennessee Tech thriller, following a 29-point fourth quarter for a 39-31 victory over No. 12 Eastern Kentucky on Oct. 18.
This time, Tech saw Southeast Missouri dodge an early Golden Eagle comeback bid and score 10 straight points to erase a 20-16 TTU lead, all in the fourth quarter. The Redhawks (4-6/2-4 OVC) moved on top, 26-20, following Jake McCrum's fourth field goal of the game, a 19-yard kick with 6:15 left for the six-point lead.
Davis & Davis wouldn't be denied, taking Tech on a 76-yard, five-play drive that culminated in Willie's 3-yard run down the left sideline. John Arnold's PAT was the deciding point. Jared hit freshman Brock McCoin for a 20-yard gain on the first play of the drive, Willie ran 16 yards on the second play, and Jared found Cody Matthews for an eight-yard pickup to the SEMO 32, setting up the touchdown run.
Still, SEMO battled back behind quarterback Kyle Snyder. Moving from their own 21, the Redhawks quickly marched into Tech territory as the race against the clock was underway.
That's when the Golden Eagle defense called a halt to the drive. Jay Rudwall and Austin Tallant stopped Snyder for no gain at the 41, then Jordan Patrick and Terrell Rollins chased the quarterback down for a four-yard sack. On third-and 14, Tallant and Normand flushed Snyder out of the pocket and forced him to throw it away on a dead run, bringing up fourth-and-14 from the TTU 45.
With 25 seconds on the clock, the Redhawks called on McCrum – one of the leading
kickers in the nation – for a 62-yard field goal try with a breeze at his back. Jordan Patrick, a 6-foot-5 sophomore, got a hand on the kick to block it and preserve the win.
Jared Davis finished 14-for 24 passing for 216 yards with one touchdown, and also rushed four times for 51 yards and one touchdown. Willie Davis wound up with a career-high 75 yards on nine carries. McCoin had his second career 100-yard game with seven catches for 120 yards, while Matthews finished with seven catches for 86 yards and one touchdown.
Snyder was 16-for-22 passing for 132 yards for the Redhawks with one sack and one interception. Paul McRoberts, back in action for the first time since an early-season injury, caught seven passes for 95 yards.
SEMO's punishing ground game netted 348 yards, led by DeMichael Jackson with 172 yards in 22 carries with one touchdown, a 48-yard explosion in the fourth quarter that put SEMO ahead, 23-20. Snyder ran for 64 yards on 20 carries with one score while Lennies McFerren added 50 yards on seven tries.
Redshirt freshman Trey Thompson led all tacklers with 15 for the Golden Eagles, while Marty Jones and Austin Tallant had 12 apiece. Tevin MCDermott, filling in at cornerback for an injured Maleek Hall, added a career-high 11 tackles.
The Redhawk defense was paced by Eriq Moore with 10 tackles and a fumble recovery, while Hunter Bledsoe added nine.
SEMO finished with 480 total yards, including 348 on the ground and 132 passing. Tech had 396 yards, getting 149 on the ground and 247 through the air. Tech forced four turnovers, with an interception from Tallant and fumble recoveries by Cory Webber, Elliott Normand and Avery Rollins.
Tallant made one of the top plays of the year in the first quarter, but the Golden Eagles didn't capitalize. The senior safety batted a pass attempt in the backfield, and grabbed it out of the air for an interception, returning it to the SEMO 32.
After a 15-yard gain on the first play, the Redhawk defense moved Tech backwards to the 28, where Arnold's 45-yard field goal attempt into a stiff wind fell short.
From there, SEMO marched 72 yards in eight plays and finished with a one-yard touchdown run from quarterback Snyder for a 7-0 lead. Tech's defense nearly made a goal line stand, stopping SEMO three times inside the five, including two at the ne-yard line, before the touchdown came behind a surge from the SEMO O-line.
The Redhawks made it 10-0 on a 43-yard field goal by McCrum with 4:19 to play in the opening period.
The visitor's lead went to 13-0 with 9:19 to play in the second quarter, following a seven-minute, 15-play drive. McCrum's 32-yard field goal put the points on the board.
With 5:38 to go in the half, coach Watson Brown made a change at quarterback, and Davis took over to lead a quick, 61-yard, five-play drive for Tech's first points of the game. After a 14-yard pass to McCoin, Davis hit the freshman on the next play and McCoin took it 40 yards to the SEMO four. Radir Annoor bulled his way the final two yards for the touchdown to make it 13-7.
McCrum's third field goal, a 40-yard kick into the wind, made it 16-7 with 9:42 to play in the third quarter.
Matthews grabbed a pass from Davis and took it 17 yards into the end zone for a Tech touchdown with 6:33 to play in the third to make it 16-13, after the Redhawks blocked the PAT.
Jared Davis capped a seven-play, 68-yard drive that overlapped the fourth quarter. The 6-4 quarterback kept it himself and roared down the sideline, leaping into the end zone to put Tech on top, 20-16.
But SEMO answered in only 1:01, as Jackson broke a tackle in the backfield and raced 48 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 13:42 remaining.
Punter Jonathan King clobbered a 51-yard punt that backed up the Redhawks to their own 12, where Snyder directed another scoring drive. This time, however, the Redhawks settled for McCrum's fourth field goal when the Golden Eagles made a sensational goal line stand.
Jackson had a seven-yard run to the Tech one-yard line on first down. On second-and-one, Snyder mishandled the snap and recovered at the two. On third-and-goal, Tallant and Webber came around the end and caught Snyder for no gain, and the field goal made it 26-20.