ATHENS, Ga. -- It won’t take long for the Tennessee Tech
football team to get its minds back on playing for an Ohio Valley
The Golden Eagles headed home from Georgia’s Sanford Stadium Saturday on the short end of a 38-0 loss to the Bulldogs, and coach Watson Brown’s team will quickly turn its attention toward the final two contests of the regular season and the chance to be a major factor in the OVC race.
Tech plays at Jacksonville State next Saturday, then wrap up the schedule by hosting Murray State on Saturday, Nov. 21. Despite the loss, Tech returns to Cookeville with a 5-4 overall record including a 4-2 mark in conference play.
“We played hard,” said Brown. “I couldn’t pick out anything that I would call positive, honestly, other than the fact that we were classy, we hung in there and we played as hard as we could play. That’s a winning bunch.
“We’re still in the conference race, we’re going home in second place in the OVC with a chance to still win or tie for the championship,” Brown said.
“We’ve got to get our heads up and have some competitiveness about us when we go play a tough Jacksonville State team next week. They’re a very good team,” Brown added.
Tech’s offense never got moving Saturday against the bigger, stronger Bulldogs. Sacked six times for a total of 51 yards, the Golden Eagles finished the game with negative yards on the ground. Tech lost 13 yards in the rushing game overall, and had 55 yards in total offense after Lee Sweeney and Tre Lamb combined to go 11-for-16 for 68 passing yards.
Sweeney compared Georgia’s defensive players to Tech’s quickest.
“That was by far the best defensive team I’ve faced since I’ve been here,” Sweeney said. “I’d say their defensive line could be out there running with Henry (Sailes) right now, speed-wise. You just have to try to take the positives away from this game and try to get that OVC championship.”
It was the first time Tech has been shut out in Brown’s three seasons as head coach, and the first blanking since falling 44-0 at Middle Tennessee in 2006.
“It was awesome to get a shutout,” said Georgia coach Mark Richt. “It doesn’t matter who you play. It’s fantastic for a program. I am really happy for our players and coaches.”
Georgia rushed for 304 yards and finished with 469 yards of total offense. The FBS Bulldogs improved to 5-4 overall and are within one win of becoming bowl eligible.
“We played a lot of guys today,” Richt said. “It’s wonderful to give those guys the opportunity to play. They work so hard, too. I was also proud that we got ourselves into position where guys could go in and have a chance. It added to the excitement of the game.
Washaun Ealey led a balanced Bulldogs ground attack, rushing for 89 yards and two touchdowns on just seven carries. He got the scoring started with a seven yard TD midway in the first quarter after the Bulldogs converted a couple of third down plays and finished off a nine-play, 69-yard touchdown drive. Ealey added a 44-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter that pushed Georgia’s lead to 28-0 as the Bulldogs reached the end zone on their first four possessions.
Orson Charles grabbed a 23-yard TD pass from Joe Cox with five minutes left in the first half and Branden Smith broke away for a 52-yard touchdown run two minutes later to make it 21-0.
After Ealey’s second TD run, the Golden Eagle defense stopped Georgia midway in the second quarter, forcing a 24-yard field goal from Blair Walsh for a 31-0 halftime lead.
Georgia scored on its first possession of the second half, putting together a seven-play, 67-yard drive before Cox hit Michael Moore for a six-yard TD to make it 38-0.
Cox finished the game 10-for-13 for 140 yards and two touchdowns, suffering one interception when Golden Eagle freshman Marty Jones picked off his second ball of the year in the end zone with 1:21 remaining the second quarter.
Jones led Tech’s defense with nine total tackles, including six solo stops. Sophomores Jake McIntosh and Howard Griffin had seven tackles each, while Kelechi Ordu made six tackles.
Tremaine Hudson, who topped Tech’s rushing game with 20 yards on 10 carries, said the team will remember this experience and get focused on next week.
“There is a big difference between FBS and FCS, especially in the offensive and defensive lines with the speed and size of the guys they’ve got at those positions,” Hudson said. “But sometimes you just have to go play football and try to get better each game.
“We don’t look on today as a bad game, we just have to go and try to get better each week. We have to go and try and catch Jacksonville and hopefully try to fight for an OVC championship,” he said.
Junior offensive tackle Andrew Higgins had similar thoughts about the game at Georgia.
“It was a good opportunity for us to see where we match up,” Higgins said. “It was a good experience. You just have to look at the positives.”
“I thought our kids played hard, but it was total dominance,” said Brown. “We played hard and didn’t quit at the end and we got to play a bunch of people. These kids will never forget this. To get to come to a traditional place like this, if we get out of it alive I think we gain something. We gain confidence.
“Next week you can say ‘I’ve played against a better guy than that, and I’ve played in a harsher atmosphere.’ Even though it doesn’t look it to everybody, you get something out of this game,” Brown said.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES:
Georgia stopped Tech on the opening possession, then marched 69 yards in nine plays for a 7-0 lead with 8:15 remaining in the first quarter. Washaun Ealey ran the final seven yards for the touchdown. The Tech defense forced the Bulldogs to convert twice on third down in the drive.
After halting the Golden Eagles on three downs, Georgia made it 14-0 as tight end Orson Charles grabbed a 23-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Joe Cox with 4:58 remaining. The drive covered 47 yards in three plays.
Branden Smith broke free around right end for a 52-yard touchdown run with 3:01 remaining, the play coming on the first snap of the possession. That made it 21-0.
Georgia built its 21-0 lead as the UGA defense held Tech without a first down in the first quarter, and sacked Lee Sweeney twice for 22 yards in losses.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES:
Georgia added another long touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter, a 44-yard explosion by Ealey, to make it 28-0.
Following a six-yard TTU punt that sliced out of bounds, the UGA offense moved from the 46 to inside the Tech 10. However, Tech's defense held and forced a field goal by Blair Walsh to make it 31-0.
With 1:21 to play before halftime, freshman Marty Jones nabbed his second interception of the season, the pick coming in the end zone. It was Tech's 14th interception of the year.
The 'Dogs were playing to keeps late in the half, following the interception. Georgia utilized two of its timeouts hoping to hold Tech, force another punt and give the UGA offense another chance before the intermission. However, on third-and-13, Henry Sailes took a short pass from Sweeney and rambled for 13 yards and a first down.
The Golden Eagles headed to the dressing room at halftime trailing 31-0. Tech had 10 yards of total offense on 27 plays in the first half while UGA had 282 on 26 plays. Sweeney was 8-for-9 for 31 yards, but was sacked four times.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES:
Georgia drove 67 yards in seven plays to score and make it 38-0 early in the second half. Cox passed six yards over the middle to Michael Moore for the score.
Redshirt freshman Tre Lamb, who comes from nearby Calhoun, Ga., took over at quarterback in the second half and got the offense moving with an eight-yard completion to Colin Allen for a first down. The drive suffered a penalty, however, and stalled.
After beginning the game 10-for-10, UGA quarterback Cox had his first incomplete pass as freshman Marcus Edwards put on a strong rush and nearly got a sack. The pass downfield was nearly intercepted by Taron Ryce.
Richmond Tooley broke up a pass attempt on second down and the Golden Eagle defensive line messed up a screen pass attempt, forcing Georgia to punt for the first time. Drew Butler got off a 47-yard kick that UGA downed at the Tech seven.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES:
Lamb completed a 19-yard pass to Benford for a first down at the 47 on the first play of the fourth quarter and the Golden Eagles looked to threaten. However, a quarterback sack and a penalty put Tech in the hole, and a 10-yard completion to Benford on third-and-22 was not enough. Nick Campbell unloaded a 50-yard punt to the UGA five.
Tech's defense stopped the Bulldogs and forced a punt, which was downed at the Golden Eagle five.
Cass Barnes took over at quarterback and got a nice gain on first down, but a holding penalty brought the ball back and Tech stalled.
Once again, the Golden Eagle defense stopped the Bulldogs and Tech took over on downs at the TTU 23 with 22 seconds remaining.
Top: Golden Eagle coach Watson Brown (left)
talks with Georgia coach Mark Richt before the game.
Second from top: Henry Sailes had a 38-yard kickoff return in the first quarter
Third from top: Kelechi Ordu tracks down UGA quarterback Joe Cox
Fourth from top: Golden Eagle freshman long snapper Jordan Adams had a couple of fans in the stands.
-- photos by Michael Vigeant and Thomas Corhern