The Tennessee Tech football team, stepping out of OVC play for the last time this season, pulled out a 38-37 win Saturday night in a nail-biter against the Indiana State Sycamores. Head coach Watson Brown called it one of the hardest fought wins of which he has ever been a part.
“That was really tough,” Brown said. “That was the hardest earned win I have ever had as a head coach. We kept hanging around and hanging around. We made a play when we had to. They didn’t and that was the difference for us.”
Despite being more than doubled in total yards and losing the time of possession battle, the Golden Eagles found a way to win. The Tech defense sacked Indiana State’s quarterback three times, picked off three passes and blocked three kicks.
Indiana State picked off starting quarterback Darian Stone on Tech’s first possession of the game. The Sycamores took advantage of the miscue quickly. Indiana State running back Shakir Bell took a screen pass 31 yards to pay dirt for the Sycamores, giving the visitors a 6-0 lead early in the first quarter.
On the following point after try, Golden Eagle senior defensive lineman Jordan Johnson blocked the attempt. That block would later prove to be the difference in the ball game.
Later in the first quarter, trailing 6-3, Johnson blocked a 20-yard field goal attempt. The loose ball was scooped up by senior defensive back James Huguely and returned 87 yards for a Golden Eagle touchdown, giving Tech a 10-6 lead.
Sophomore safety Bill Dillard would intercept a pass on the next series and Tech’s offense would capitalize on the mistake. Senior running back Bud Golden would score from one yard out a minute and a half later. This was Golden’s first game of the season after sitting out the first four games due to academic issues. However, Golden’s night and season would be short lived. He later broke his leg and will miss the remainder of the season.
Tech went into halftime with a 24-12 advantage and the momentum over Indiana State.
The Sycamore’s stormed out in the third quarter outscoring Tech 22 to 7. Adding to Tech’s problems, Stone was knocked out of the game with a concussion on the first offensive possession following the half.
Sophomore nickel back Jimmy Laughlin came up with his first career interception halfway through the third quarter, returning the ball to the Indiana State 37-yard line. Redshirt freshman backup quarterback Jared Davis engineered a 6-play drive, which ended with a 5-yard touchdown run from Davis.
Trailing 37-31, senior defensive lineman Malcolm Mitchell blocked a 40-yard field goal attempt, giving the ball back to the Golden Eagle offense with 5:40 left to play.
Davis marched the Golden Eagles down the field on a 12-play drive that took 4:29 off the clock. Davis connected with senior receiver Zack Ziegler on first and goal from the 2-yard line for a touchdown, tying the game at 37. Zack Sharp’s point after attempt was good and put Tech up 38-37.
Indiana State would get the ball back with a little over a minute to play and trailing by one. The Sycamores quickly moved the ball into Golden Eagle territory. On fourth and three from the Tech 35, Indiana State quarterback Mike Perish threw his final interception. Pressured by Laughlin, Perish rolled out toward the sideline and threw off balance into traffic. The ball was tipped into the air and intercepted by junior corner Tevin McDermott, sealing the victory for the Golden Eagles.
Johnson was named OVC special-teams player of the week for his two blocks. Johnson was also chosen as a College Sporting News All-Star. Huguely was named Co-Defensive Player of the Week for his contributions in Tech’s win. Huguely tallied 12 tackles in addition to his 87-yard touchdown.
Tech will be getting back into OVC play when the team travels to Murray State this weekend. Murray possesses an explosive offense. The Murray offense will test the Golden Eagles defensively on the edges this Saturday at 3 p.m. at Doyt L. Perry Stadium.