Seven seniors play final game as Tech hosts Eastern Illinois

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Seven Golden Eagles seniors will play their final game Saturday afternoon when Tennessee Tech and Eastern Illinois wrap up the 2008 football season with a 1:30 p.m. Ohio Valley Conference game in Tucker Stadium.

Tech bids farewell to offensive guards Scott Eller and Derrick Outlaw, long snapper John Ross Hudson, linebacker Corey Reed, defensive tackle Martini HIlliard and safeties Xavier Purdy and Maurice Smith. They will be recognized during the team's introduction prior to kickoff.

Tech is 3-8 overall and 1-6 in the OVC, and has had two weeks to prepare for this contest, following a 41-17 loss to Jacksonville State on Nov. 8. Eastern Illinois suffered a 15-13 loss to Austin Peay at home last weekend, and brings a 4-7 overall record into the contest, including a 2-6 league record.

A Golden Eagle win would allow Tech to match EIU in the league standings, but Tech must overcome recent history -- Eastern Illinois has won the past three against the Golden Eagles. Tech's last win in the series was a 40-37 overtime victory in 2004 in Tucker Stadium.

Eastern Illinois is looking to win its fifth game of the year and stop a two-game losing skid that includes a 45-24 loss at Tennessee State two weeks ago and a two-point home loss to Austin Peay last Saturday.

In comparing the two teams, Tech has managed a little more offense this season but the Golden Eagles have also given up more yards and more points. Areas where Tech has an edge include kickoff returns and passing yards, while EIU has an advantage in punt returns, rushing yards and penalty yards.

Eastern Illinois is led by quarterback Bodie Reeder, who has passed for 1,735 yards and 12 touchdowns. Charles Graves has been Reeder's favorite target with 39 catches for 543 yards. On the ground, the top gainer for EIU has been Travarus Bess with 923 yards on 164 attempts.

Tech is without its leading ball carrier, as Henry Sailes suffered a hand injury against TSU (Nov. 1) and sat out the last game. In his place, freshman Tremaine Hudson stepped in to fill the void and accounted for a season-best 184 all-purpose yards against Jacksonville State. Cedric Wilkerson is the next leading gainer this season for Tech with 305 yards and two TDs, while Derrian Waters has rushed for 132 yards and two scores. Hudson has 132 yards and freshman Dontey Gay has 123 yards.

Lee Sweeney is Tech's top passer, throwing for 1,425 yards and eight touchdowns while hitting nearly 60 percent of his passes. Josh Lowery played most of the game vs. JSU and threw for 191 yards and two touchdowns. Lowery has passed for 756 yards and seven touchdowns while completing 64.8 percent of his tosses.

No question who the top receiver has been this season for the Golden Eagles as freshman Tim Benford has set the school record for most catches (61) and tied the school record for most TD catches (10).

On defense, Corey Reed has 123 tackles while putting together one of the top seasons in school history. Maurice Smith, meanwhile, has 113 tackles and more than 300 career stops to ranks in the Top 10 in Tech history.

Tickets for the game are available at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center, or by calling (931) 372-3940. Fans with a ticket to Saturday's basketball game may receive a free ticket to the football game, and fans with tickets to the football game may receive a free ticket to the basketball game.