In preparation for the 2011 homecoming football game set for Nov. 5, the Golden Eagles looked back on their last homecoming victory.
Oct. 31, 2009,Tech was matched up against the Tennessee State Tigers. During the very first possession of the game, Golden Eagle Caleb Mitchell made a sack on the quarterback and caused a fumble at TSU’s 24- yard line.
“At that moment, I felt on top of the world and unstoppable,” Mitchell said. “I knew we had what it took to pull out that victory.”
Only moments later, Dontey Gay scored the first touchdown of the night.
“I knew that we were off to a great start,” said Gay. “Everyone came ready to play.”
After gaining some yards from an interception, Mitchell helped set up yet another chance for a touchdown. With 5:49 remaining in the first period, Collin Allen snatched a pass from quarterback Lee Sweeney to put Tech in the lead at 13-0.
Late in the first quarter, TSU’s Sidney Tarver picked off a pass from Sweeney and ran 89 yards for a touchdown.
“I felt as if I had let my team down,” said Sweeney, “but I knew I just needed to keep my head in the game and focus.”
The clock ran down without either team scoring until about midway through the fourth quarter. After a touchdown by Calvin McNairl of TSU, the game was tied at 13.
The Golden Eagles and the Tigers continued to battle. About four minutes later, Tim Benford caught a 28-yard pass from Sweeney. Breaking double coverage in the corner of the end zone, Benford scored to put Tech ahead.
Tech’s defense proved to be too strong for the Tigers as it held them from scoring anymore. Tech clinched the victory as well as the Sergeant York Trophy.
Of the 11 games that these two teams have played against each other during Tech’s homecoming, the Golden Eagles have won seven.
This year, the Golden Eagles are ranked no. 15 in the FCS Coaches Poll and first in the Ohio Valley Conference.
Because it is homecoming and the Golden Eagles have had recent success and recognition for their talent, Saturday’s game is expected to have one of the largest crowds that Tucker stadium has seen in years.
“Having a large crowd gives the team extra motivation,” said Sweeney. “We always play to win, but for homecoming we want to give [our fans] a show by putting points on the board and keeping [the Racers] from scoring.
“We want to give our alumni and current students a reason to keep coming back.”