By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
A thrilling win like the one Tennessee Tech had against Samford doesn't come too often. But in the last 10 years, the Golden Eagles have certainly had their share.
Tech defeated the Bulldogs 59-58 in double overtime as sophomore quarterback Bailey Fisher rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two more, then converted three two-point plays to put Tech on top. Fisher was named the national offensive player of the week by STATS FCS, as well as earning offensive player of the week honors from the Ohio Valley Conference, the Tennessee Sports Writers Association and College Sports Madness.
The 415-yard game for Fisher was the third-best passing effort in school history, trailing offensive coordinator Tre Lamb's 481-yard game against Southeast Missouri in 2012 and Lee Sweeney's 437 against the Redhawks in 2006.
Fisher also ended the contest with 463 yards of total offense, the third-best game in those figures as well.
Tech trailed by 23 points late in the third quarter and by 16 in the final two minutes of the game.
But a miraculous comeback like that is nothing new as Tech had the following comebacks in the last decade:
10/18/2014 – Tennessee Tech 39, Eastern Kentucky 31
As the Colonels entered the week, EKU stood tied with Jacksonville State undefeated in the conference with identical 3-0 league records. EKU was also 6-0 on the season.
And Eastern Kentucky stood ahead 31-10, those last points coming off of a 75-yard field goal block returned for a touchdown with two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Then came the fourth quarter as the Golden Eagles scored 29 unanswered points. Brock McCoin caught a 14-yard touchdown from Darian Stone, then got within seven as Stone threw a three-yarder to Cody Matthews.
Stone connected with McCoin again, this time on a 27-yarder, which put the Golden Eagles down by one. On the PAT try, the snap was mishandled, but Marty Jones, who had already shown sure hands earlier in the game with two interceptions, took the ball and ran it in for the two-point conversion, putting Tech on top, 32-31.
Ladarius Vanlier added a 63-yard touchdown run for insurance, then Jones kept EKU from striking back, interception two more passes to end the contest with four pick-offs.
The Colonels lost once more against Jacksonville State, but had a strong enough of a season to reach the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, falling to Indiana State in the first round.
11/10/2012 – Tennessee Tech 45, UT Martin 44, OT
To set the scene, the Skyhawks came into the contest tied with Eastern Illinois atop the OVC standings with identical 5-1 records. Tech, following the injury to Tre Lamb earlier in the season, had gone to Darian Stone as starter and the Golden Eagles, 2-7 at the time, were looking for their first win of the conference slate.
The two teams battled to a 17-17 tie at the half as UT Martin quarterback – and later Tech assistant – Derek Carr was putting on a throwing clinic as he ended the contest with 422 yards and four touchdowns on 35-of-52 passing.
Carr got his second touchdown of the night in the third quarter, then D.J. McNeil ran for another score as the Skyhawks took a 31-17 lead going into the fourth and final quarter.
But Tech went on to score 21 consecutive points as Stone threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Cody Matthews, then, following a missed UTM field goal, Bud Golden capped a seven-play, 79-yard drive with a two-yard run with 3:06 remaining in the contest.
After a failed drive for the Skyhawks, Stone was a surgeon, putting together a two-play, 80-yard drive in 20 seconds of clock time as he gave Tech the 38-31 lead with a 79-yard touchdown strike to Ryan Tilghman, with Zach Sharp's PAT afterward with 1:10 remaining in the contest.
However, the Skyhawks weren't done. With just seconds on the clock, Carr heaved the ball toward the end zone. It appeared that cornerback William Dillard might have intercepted the pass, but the ball fell out of his hands and into Chris Thompson's for the score. Cody Sandlin knotted the game at 38-all.
In the first overtime period, tight end Doug Page ran the ball in for his second TD of the game and Sharp nailed the PAT to put Tech up 45-38. Carr was sacked by Marcus Edwards on third down of the Skyhawk response, then facing 4th-and-16, threw a touchdown pass to Jeremy Butler in the corner of the end zone, leaving UTM down by one.
The Skyhawks lined up for the PAT, but a bad snap forced a change of plans. Holder James Satterfield ran to the right, but Tech's Tommie McBride made the game-saving stop, forcing the fumble and ending the game.
Stone set the Tech record for rushing yards by a quarterback with 190 and his 466 yards of total offense stood as second in program history, topped by Tre Lamb's 474 against Southeast Missouri earlier in the season.
UTM went on to win its final game of the regular season and finished in a tie for second with Eastern Kentucky. Eastern Illinois won the OVC title.
11/20/2010 – Tennessee Tech 35, Jacksonville State 24
As the week started, Southeast Missouri had clinched at least a share of the OVC title. Jacksonville State defeated the Redhawks 29-27 the previous week, so a win over the Golden Eagles would have given the Gamecocks the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs and a share of the OVC crown.
Boxes of championship T-shirts were unloaded into JSU's locker room, waiting for the moment they could break them out following a win over the 4-6 Golden Eagles, 3-4 in OVC play. Tech fell in two close OVC battles at SEMO and against UT Martin, but picked up wins at Austin Peay, vs. Eastern Illinois and at Tennessee State, before an injury to sophomore starter Tre Lamb hampered the Tech offense.
With senior Cass Barnes at quarterback, the Golden Eagles took two one-sided losses at Murray State and against Eastern Kentucky on Homecoming, making the season finale against the Gamecocks an unsure matter.
For more than three quarters, the game seemed to be heading in Jacksonville State's favor as the Gamecocks led 24-7 with 13:40 remaining in the contest. By that point, JSU had rolled up 346 yards of offense.
Then, the Tech defense and Barnes saw things change in the other direction. Tech allowed just 37 more yards for the Gamecocks, then Barnes led scoring drives to give Tech 28 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. The senior had 213 yard
Jocques Crawford led off with a seven-yard run with 11:33 left, then Zack Ziegler caught a 16-yard pass from Barnes at 6:27 remaining, the Matthew Barker PAT putting the Golden Eagles just three points behind, 24-21.
With three minutes remaining, Cody Forbes put the Golden Eagles on top with a two-yard touchdown run that capped a 1:48 drive that went 88 yards on seven plays. JSU's next drive, starting on its own 11, went nowhere with four straight incomplete passes, turning the ball over on downs.
With 1:46 left in the contest, Crawford took the rock and scored his third touchdown of the game on a four-yard run.
JSU turned the ball over on downs once again and Barnes was able to go into victory formation, kneel and keep the championship shirts safely in their boxes as Southeast Missouri earned sole possession of the OVC crown.
A postscript to that game: the Golden Eagles went on to earn the automatic bid to the FCS playoffs the following season as Tech earned a share of the OVC title, beating JSU and Eastern Kentucky on their home fields to break the three-way tie.