HAMPTON, VA. – Trailing for most of the game, the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles rallied in the fourth quarter to pull out a come-from-behind win 30 – 27 in Hampton.
“It’s one of the better wins we’ve had,” head coach Watson Brown said. “We can play a lot better than that and we found a way to win.”
Tech outgained Hampton offensively 340 to 245. The Golden Eagle offense was led in rushing by redshirt junior Cody Forbes who carried the ball 19 times for 73 yards. Junior quarterback Darian Stone also carried the ball 16 times for 52 yards and a touchdown. Stone completed 14 of his 28 attempts for 158 yards and a touchdown.
Tech was led in receiving by junior wide receiver Cody Matthews who hauled in 9 passes for 114 yards and a touchdown.
The drive of the night came in the fourth quarter with 7:39 to play. The Golden Eagles held a 23 – 20 lead and were backed up on their own 4-yard line.
On the first play, Stone connected with Matthews for a 28-yard gain, out of his own end zone. The drive was on the verge of stalling when the Golden Eagles faced a fourth-and-14.
Stone was forced out of the pocket and scrambled towards the line of scrimmage. Stone again connected with Matthews, this time for a 32-yard touchdown, putting Tech up 10 with four minutes to play. The Matthews touchdown reception capped off a 10 play, 96-yard drive that took 3:30 off the clock, essentially sealing the game for the Golden Eagles.
The Golden Eagle defense continued to improve, allowing only 55 yards rushing on 29 rushing attempts. They also turned the Pirates over twice.
Tech faced plenty of adversity against Hampton Saturday night. The Golden Eagles turned the ball over three times. Down 10 late in the third quarter, Tech’s starting quarterback Darian Stone was sidelined with cramps.
“We’re down 10 without our starting quarterback and Jared Davis takes us right down the field to score,” Brown said. “We just chipped away.”
The season will really crank up for the Golden Eagles this weekend as they kick off conference play. Tech will host in-state OVC rival Tennessee State University Saturday at 7 p.m. in Tucker Stadium.
Tech has lost to TSU the past two seasons by a total of three points.
Last year in Nashville, TSU scored a controversial touchdown on the final play of regulation to beat the Golden Eagles by one. TSU lined up in an illegal formation to put the points on the board, which should have resulted in a penalty and a 10-second run off ending the game. However, the OVC officials missed the call and Tech walked away with a heartbreaking loss.
TSU comes to Cookeville this season with a very balanced pro-style offense. The Tigers will line up with multiple tight ends and several fullback sets this Saturday. TSU is going to look to run the ball on early downs to control the clock and set up their play action pass series.
TSU will start a redshirt junior at quarterback this weekend. Michael German is coming off a suspension just in time to face the Golden Eagles.
The key for the Golden Eagle offense is to run a high number of plays to wear out the TSU defense. Tech proclaims themselves the “fastest sixty minutes in football” and that style of football will be evident this Saturday.
Defensively, the Golden Eagles need to continue their stingy run defense and create turnovers as they have the previous three games. Stopping the run early will hinder TSU’s play action pass game putting them in long down and distance situations later in the drives. This will allow the Golden Eagles to pin their ears back and get after German.
In the past five seasons, the game has been won or lost on the last few drives of the ballgame. This year’s match up shouldn’t be any different. A win would put Tech right where they want to be heading into OVC play. A loss would put the Golden Eagles behind the eight ball.
The game can also be seen on ESPN3 at 7 p.m. CST Saturday.