Golden Eagles ride Gay to 28-16 OVC win over SEMO

Golden Eagles ride Gay to 28-16 OVC win over SEMO

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Sophomore Dontey Gay rushed for a career-high 125 yards and scored two touchdowns and the Tennessee Tech defense intercepted three passes as the Golden Eagles outlasted Southeast Missouri for a 28-16 Ohio Valley Conference victory Saturday afternoon in chilly Tucker Stadium.

"We wanted to come in and get 150 yards (rushing) and we got close," Gay said. "The offensive line really pushed itself to the max. We didn't play our best, but we still did pretty well, good enough to win."

"We knew SEMO was a good team and we knew they would play all out," Gay added. "They came out and played hard but our defense came out and did a good job of stopping them."

Head coach Watson Brown was happy to notch the game in the win-column, despite his team's less-than-perfect effort.

"It's neat to win a game ugly, because we didn't play well, period," Brown said. "We didn't have the spirit or the enthusiasm, and we figured out a way to win, and that's a good sign."

"I'm glad to get through this one and get a win and get on to the next one. We took care of the ball, we only had one turnover and they had three. We played good defense when we had to, not all day, but we played good defense when we had to."

"I'm proud of the kids for playing the game the way you're supposed to play the game," Brown said. "We're starting to learn how to win games, and how to play off of each other."

After Curtis Huge staked the Redhawks (1-6/0-5 OVC) to a 6-0 lead with a pair of short first quarter field goals, Tech (4-3/3-2 OVC) scored 21 unanswered points during a seven-minute span to open the second quarter.

Gay broke free for a 37-yard touchdown with 16 seconds remaining in the first quarter and Tim Donegan’s PAT gave the Golden Eagles a 7-6 lead. Gay had all three carries in the three-play, 45-yard scoring drive.

On SEMO’s first play following the score, Golden Eagle sophomore Richmond Tooley grabbed his second interception of the season at the Redhawk 38, and seven plays later Gay crashed in from the four to make it 14-6.

Following a 21-yard punt, Tech took over at the SEMO 35 and drove to paydirt in seven plays as Tremaine Hudson scored from the seven to make it 21-7.

"Dontey had to carry the load because Tremaine (Hudson) went out," Brown said. "He had some nice runs and he broke some tackles, it wasn't all just blocked perfect. He had some big runs for us, and it was nice to get the running game going because the passing game was not sharp at all."

Huge kicked his third field goal of the day, a 21-yarder with 2:56 remaining to finish the first half scoring with Tech on top, 21-9.

Neither team was able to add any points in the third quarter, but Tech put together a 75-yard, eight-play scoring drive early in the fourth to build the lead to 28-9. The big play was a leaping catch by junior Colin Allen at the one-yard line, setting up Cedric Wilkerson’s one-yard score.

The Redhawks finally found the end zone on their next possession, answering with an eight-play, 63-yard drive to trim the difference to 28-16. Scheible accounted for all 63 yards on the drive, rushing for 15 and passing for 48, including an 11-yard strike to Cedric Cox in the end zone.

SEMO got a chance to cut further into the margin when Aris Bowen intercepted Lee Sweeney’s pass at the SEMO 32. Instead, Dustin Dillehay made his team-leading third interception of the season to end the threat. Freshman Marty Jones got Tech’s third interception of the contest at the Tech one-yard line with one minute remaining.

SEMO had a narrow edge in nearly every category with 305 yards of total offense compared with 262 for the Golden Eagles. SEMO had a 164-123 edge through the air and a 141-139 edge on the ground. Scheible led SEMO in rushing with 26 carries for 69 yards, while Henry Harris added 60 yards on 11 carries. Scheible was 15-for-23 for 164 yards with one TD and three interceptions. He was sacked four times.

Gay (below) had 125 yards and two scores on 20 carries, while Hudson (left) finished with 43 yards on 10 carries. Sweeney went 10-for-21 for 123 yards with one interception. He was sacked three times.

"The big names on offense haven't been there, and you don't have good offensive days when your best players don't play well," Brown said. "I'm surprised we got 28 points. We ran the ball better, but most of the issue is our skill players did not have a good day. That happens."

Kelechi Ordu topped the Tech defense for the second straight week , making 10 tackles with two tackles-for-loss and one quarterback sack. He also caused a fumble.

Josh Woods had 10 tackles and 2.5 tackles-for-loss to lead SEMO’s defense. William Castro blocked a punt in the first quarter that set up the Redhawks’ first field goal.

The Golden Eagles stay at home next week to host Tennessee State in the Golden Eagles’ annual Homecoming game. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.

The Golden Eagles look to stay unbeaten at home and notch their third Ohio Valley Conference win of the year when they host Southeast Missouri, Saturday. Follow all of the live action in today's game right here.

Pregame Notes

* Tech leads the all-time series between the two squads, 10-7, and took the last meeting, 29-27, last year in Cape Girardeau. The Golden Eagles have won the last three meetings at Tucker Stadium.
* TTU enters the game with a 2-0 mark so far this season at home.
* Quarterback Lee Sweeney needs 15 completions to pass former Eastern Illinois standout Tony Romo for third in career completions in OVC history.
* It's a cool day today at Tucker Stadium, about 55 degrees with seven mile per hour winds out of the West.
* Wide receiver Tim Benford needs four receptions to move into the top 10 in career receptions at Tech.
* Every member of the Golden Eagle football team shook  hands with a contingent of honor roll students prior to the game.
* Tech won the toss and elected to defer to the second half. Tech will kick off and defend the south endzone.

First Quarter Notes

* Both teams went three-and-out on their first possessions. However, SEMO blocked Tech's punt to take over at the TTU 16 yard line. The Golden Eagle defense held the Redhawks at bay and forced them to settle for a 32-yard field goal. SEMO leads, 3-0
* Tech converted a fourth-and-one deep in its own territory but was unable to take advantage of it as the Golden Eagles were forced to punt.
* Following the TTU punt, SEMO got a 40-yard rush to get on the Tech side of the field, but the Golden Eagle defense again held the Redhawks to a field goal. SEMO leads, 6-0
* Tech is winning the battle of field position right now. After pinning the Redhawks back on their own 10, TTU took over at the SEMO 45 following a punt.
* Tailback Dontey Gay provided all of the offense as Tech got on the board for the first time. After rushes of three and five yards, Gay busted a 37 yard touchdown run off the right side to give TTU the lead. Tech leads, 7-6
* On the last play of the first quarter, cornerback Richmond Tooley picked off a SEMO pass to give Tech possession in the Redhawks territory.

Second Quarter Notes

* Tech has been moving the ball on the ground effectively the last two drives. Tremaine Hudson and Dontey Gay provided the offense as TTU drove to the SEMO 5 before Gay punched it in the endzone for his second touchdown of the day. Tech leads, 14-6
* The Golden Eagles scored a touchdown for the third consecutive possession as Tremaine Hudson ran around the left side of the SEMO defense into the endzone from seven yards out. Tech leads, 21-6
* The Redhawks drove down the field on their ensuing possession, but Tech's defense held when it needed to. The Golden Eagles stopped SEMO on the four yard line, forcing the Redhawks to settle for their third field goal of the day. Tech leads, 21-9
* Neither team could add points in their final possessions of the first half. Tech goes into the break with a 12-point lead.

Halftime Notes

* There has not been much for passing offense today. Lee Sweeney has 39 passing yards on 5-of-9 passing, while SEMO's quarterback Matt Scheible has 15 yards threw the air on 3-of-9 passing with one interception.
* Tech has 84 yards rushing so far. Gay leads the team with 59 yards and two scores on the ground, while Hudson has 43 yards and one touchdown.
* TTU will have the ball to begin the second half.

Third Quarter Notes

* The Golden Eagles looked to have a big gainer to Henry Sailes on their first possession of the second half, but a TTU penalty nullified the play and Tech was forced to punt.
* After Tech forced a three-and-out on SEMO's first possession of the second half, the Golden Eagles drove into the Redhawks territory, but the drive stalled and TTU turned the ball over on downs. Tech took a couple of shots to the endzone but couldn't connect as a ball for Colin Allen was swatted away and a pass intended for Tim Benford was just out of his reach.
* Tech almost forced it's second turnover of the day when Kelechi Ordu knocked the ball loose from a SEMO ball carrier. TTU had a chance to recover the ball but it squirted out of Travis Adkins' hands and Southeast Missouri recovered. SEMO missed a 47-yard field goal attempt wide right, and Tech will take over.

Fourth Quarter Notes

* On the first play of the fourth quarter, Tech missed a 39-yard field goal, which would have given the Golden Eagles a 15-point lead. SEMO takes over at their own 29 yard line.
* Gay has more than 100 yards rushing today -- his first 100 yard game of his career. He currently has 122 yards on the ground and is averaging better than 5.0 yards per carry.
* Wide receiver Colin Allen just made a big play for the Golden Eagle offense. On a third-and-13 play, Sweeney lofted a ball down the sideline and Allen out-jumped a SEMO receiver to haul in the 36-yard pass at the one yard line. On the next play, Cedric Wilkerson punched the ball in the endzone for Tech's third touchdown on the ground today. Tech leads, 28-9
* SEMO just scored their first touchdown of the day on an eight-play, 63-yard drive. The Redhawks converted on the extra point to cut the TTU lead to 12. Tech leads, 28-16
* The Redhawks tried an onside kick following their touchdown, but freshman Marcus Edwards gobbled up the attempt to give Tech the ball.
* Sweeney got picked off for the first time today on a pass intended for Benford. The pass was tipped in the air by a SEMO defender and over the head of Benford before getting intercepted.
* Tech returned the favor as Dustin Dillehay picked off a pass deep down field and returned it to the SEMO 39 yard line.
* Marty Jones just picked off a SEMO pass with just over a minute left in the game to secure the Tech win. TTU will take over the ball and run out the clock. Tech improves to 4-3 overall and 3-2 in the OVC.

photos by Tony Marable