Jacksonville State spoils Homecoming, claims 41-17 victory in Tucker Stadium

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee Tech football team came out of the gate looking like a team poised to spring an upset, but in the end, Jacksonville State's offense was too powerful for the young Golden Eagles to keep in check.

The Gamecocks spoiled Tech's Homecoming and kept their slim playoff hopes alive with a 41-17 win in front of 9,413 fans in sun-soaked Tucker Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Late in the second quarter, Tech drove deep into Gamecock territory with a chance to take a 14-13 lead into halftime, but the JSU defense kept the Golden Eagles out of the end zone, and Tech settled for a field goal, pulling within 13-10. The Gamecocks scored two touchdowns early in the second half, and never looked back.

Josh Lowery completed 19-of-34 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns for Tech. Freshman wide receiver Tim Benford tied a Tech single-season record for touchdown catches with his tenth of the season. Benford finished the game with six catches for 67 yards and a touchdown.

The JSU offense, led by former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux, put up 486 yards of total offense, with 265 through the air, and 221 on the ground. Gamecock full back Ronald Murray scored three rushing touchdowns in the third quarter, and finished the game with 26 rushing yards, while running back Daniel Jackson rushed 16 times for 107 yards.

The Tech defense was led by Cory Reed, who made 12 tackles and intercepted a Perrilloux pass, Reed's first career interception. Taron Ryce had 13 tackles, and one tackle-for-loss for Tech.

With running back Henry Sailes missing the game with a hand injury, freshman Tremain Hudson shouldered much of the load out of the backfield, carrying the ball seven times for 12 yards and catching eight passes for 61 yards and a touchdown. He finished the contest with 184 all-purpose yards, the top single-game total for the Golden Eagles this season.

The Golden Eagles were able to cut down on turnovers, giving the ball up twice to the Gamecocks, including one interception late in the fourth quarter. With Reed's interception, Tech finished minus one in turnover margin. The Golden Eagles were penalized seven times for just 33 yards.

The Golden Eagles have an open week up next, giving them two weeks to prepare for their final game of the season, when Eastern Illinois visits Cookeville on Nov. 22. For tickets, call the Golden Eagle ticket office at 931-372-3940.

Pre-game notes

* The Golden Eagles and Gamecocks have met 12 times prior to 2008, with JSU owning a 7-5 record against Tech.
* Tech's all-time Homecoming record is 42-34-1.

* Junior quarterback Lee Sweeney needs three touchdown passes to tie the Tech career record of 38 held by Robert Craft.
* JSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux was one of the most touted recruits in the country coming out of high school, and experienced success at Louisiana State University a year ago, before being removed from the team for violating team rules, and transferring to Jacksonville State.
* Tech running back Henry Sailes, who leads the Golden Eagles in all-purpose yards, is nursing a hand injury, and will not play. Tremaine Hudson, Derrian Waters, and Ced Wilkerson will carry the load in the backfield.
* Tech is 2-0 in 2008 when scoring first, and 3-0 when leading at halftime. The Golden Eagles are 0-2 in day games.
* A win for Tech would mathematically eliminate JSU from a share of the OVC championship.
* The Gamecocks have scored over 30 points in seven of nine games in 2008.
* Tech has set the school passing record in two of its last four games against JSU. (2001, Grant Swallows, 410 yards; 2002, Robert Craft, 412 yards.)
* The game-time conditions at Tucker Stadium are sunny with a strong wind.
* Maurice Smith and Scott Eller represented Tech at midfield for the coin toss. JSU won the toss, and deferred their option to the second half. Tech will recieve the opening kickoff.

First quarter notes

* The Golden Eagles defense was able to force JSU to miss a field goal. But on the ensuing drive, Tech lost a fumble, and the Gamecocks were able to convert the turnover into a touchdown, and lead 7-0.
* On the ensuing kick, Tremaine Hudson took the ball 45 yards, and set Tech up with great field position. Lowery capped the drive with a touchdown pass to Tim Benford. The catch was Benford's tenth touchdown catch of the season, tying a school record. Tech is 0-1 in 2008 when tied after one quarter.

Second quarter notes

* Freshman Nick Campbell was forced to punt early in the second quarter, and booted the ball 66 yards, a career long.
* JSU took the ball 83 yards on eight plays and finished with a touchdown from Perrilloux to Maurice Dupree, who broke the single season record for touchdown catches at Jacksonville State with his tenth TD catch of the season. The PAT was no good, and JSU holds a 13-7 lead.
* A Tech field goal by Justin Kraemer with under a minute to play in the half made the score 13-10, in favor of JSU. The kick broke a streak of five consecutive misses by Kraemer.
* At the close of the first half, Tech lineback Corey Reed picked off the first pass of his career, and the halftime score is 13-10.

Halftime notes

* The Golden Eagles finished the first half with 117 yards of total offense, and held the ball for almost 16 minutes. Tech also went 1-for-1 on fourth down.
* Tech went 2-for-2 from inside the red zone, notching a touchdown and a field goal.
* Penalties and turnover have plagued the Golden Eagles for much of the 2008 season, but have not been hurt by them in the first half. Tech is even in turnover margin, and has been penalized only three times for 12 yards, while the Gamecocks have been penalized three times for 35 yards.

Third quarter notes

* JSU was able to put two touchdown drives together in the first ten minutes of the second half, and grabbed a 27-10 lead.
* The Gamecocks punched in another touchdown just before halftime, making the score 34-10. JSU fullback Ronald Murray scored all three Gamecock touchdowns in the third quarter.

Fourth quarter notes

* The Golden Eagles began the fourth quarter with a touchdown drive of their own, when Donte Gay caught a touchdown pass from Lowery, making the score 34-17. The drive took 13 plays, coverd 80 yards and took four minutes and 38 seconds off the clock.