The Golden Eagles (5-3, 4-2 OVC) are looking to bounce back from a one-point Homecoming loss as they travel to Richmond, Ky. to take on the Eastern Kentucky Colonels (6-3, 5-1 OVC) on Saturday.
Both teams are ranked in the FCS Coaches poll, 20 and 25 respectively, and both control their own destiny to win the conference with only two more weeks remaining in the season.
“There’s two weeks left and we’ve got two teams that control their own destiny and we’re playing each other,” head coach Watson Brown said. “We’ve got to play our best game of the year to beat these guys. This has now become the biggest game on the schedule and our biggest thing is how we prepare and how we execute.”
Tech is coming off only their second conference loss of the season last Saturday to Murray State, 38-37. After overcoming a 14-point deficit at half, Tech stormed back to tie the ball game heading into the fourth quarter.
After giving up an early score in the fourth, Tech pulled to within one point with 2:05 left in the game when junior quarterback Tre Lamb found senior receiver Tim Benford over the middle for a 16-yard touchdown toss. Freshman kicker Zach Sharpe kicked it off the upright on the ensuing point after, his first extra point miss this season.
The Golden Eagles were unable to come up with the onside kick and had no timeouts to prevent the Racers from running out the clock.
“We had an unbelievably tough loss,” Brown said. “That’s only happened to me one other time in my 40-plus years of coaching.”
Despite the loss, Benford had a record day. His 166 yards gave him the record for Tech’s all-time receiving yards with 2,952. His late score also moved him into a tie for first with former Golden Eagle Larry Shipp for career touchdowns with 27.
Eastern Kentucky comes into Saturday’s contest with momentum on their side after defeating Jacksonville State last weekend, despite being down 48-24 with 7:25 left in the game.
The Colonels are led by junior quarterback T.J. Pryor who threw for 282 yards and five touchdown passes last week against JSU, which earned him Player of the Week honors from College Sporting News.
Pryor also got help from fellow juniors Matt Denham and Tyrone Goard. Denham led the team in rushing with 209 yards on 35 carries. Goard had 123 yards on five catches. Three of those catches were touchdowns, including the game winner with 1:24 left to play.