COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Tennessee Tech scored on all five first
half possessions to build a 34-0 lead at the intermission and
coasted to a 51-10 season-opening, non-conference victory over
Pikeville College Thursday night in Tucker Stadium.
Dontey Gay (photo at right) rushed for a career-best 88 yards on nine carries and scored a pair of touchdowns to pace a ground attack that piled up 256 yards, the third-most rushing yards in a game in head coach Watson Brown's tenure with the Golden Eagles.
Senior Cedric Wilkerson also scored a pair of touchdowns, while sophomore Jimmy Blair and senior quarterback Lee Sweeney each reached paydirt on the ground as the Golden Eagles rushed for six scores. Tech also got a 53-yard touchdown pass from Sweeney to sophomore Alden Olverson.
In addition to Gay's 88 yards, sophomore Tremaine Hudson gained 86 yards in 11 carries. Sweeney finished the game 14-for-18 for 187 yards and one touchdown, playing three quarters before yielding the signal-calling duties to redshirt freshman Tre Lamb.
Tech's defense set the tone early, as senior co-captain Brendon Fisher intercepted a pass on Pikeville's second play from scrimmage, leading to a two-play, 32-yard scoring drive as Gay rushed for 24 yards on the first play and eight yards for a touchdown on the second.
Six minutes later, junior Dustin Dillehay intercepted a Bear pass at the Tech 11 after Pikeville had marched 42 yards in 12 plays. The Golden Eagles capitalized on that turnover to march 89 yards and make it 14-0 on a one-yard plunge from Wilkerson.
The difference went to 21-0 on a one-yard push by Sweeney early in the second quarter after Dillehay returned a short punt 27 yards to the Pikeville 20.
Sweeney hit a wide open Olverson in stride down the middle for the longest play of the game, a 53-yard pass to make it 28-0. It was the first catch of Olverson's career after he moved to wide receiver from the defense following his freshman season.
Tech's lead was 34-0 at halftime after Wilkerson's second TD from the one and a missed PAT.
Donegan kicked his first career field goal, a 28-yard try, late in the third quarter to make it 37-0. Tech went on top 44-0 early in the four quarter as Gay scored from the five, a drive engineered by Lamb that covered 60 yards in six plays, all on the ground.
Pikeville put its first TD of the season on the board with 3:58 remaining when Jeremy Mobley broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run.
Lamb handed the ball to Blair on four consecutive plays and the sophomore moved Tech 53 yards, including a 35-yard run on the first play and a 15-yard touchdown to cap it and make it 51-7.
Pikeville moved 69 yards on the ensuing kickoff, a 39-yard carry and a pair of 15-yard penalties on the Golden Eagles. From the 21, the Bears moved the ball to the nine, setting the stage for a 26-yard field from from Kyle Chilton with six seconds to play for the final margin.
The Golden Eagles managed 443 yards in total offense, including 256 on the ground and 187 through the air. Pikeville had 180 total yards, rushing for 127 and adding 53 passing.
Defensively, in addition to the interceptions from Fisher and Dillehay, the Golden Eagles were led in tackles by Howard Griffin with eight. Freshman Barry Lenon registered the only sack of the game, an eight-yard loss.
Tech (1-0) opens Ohio Valley Conference play next week when it
visits defending champion Eastern Kentucky at 6 p.m. (CDT) Saturday
in Roy Kidd Stadium.
Photo above: Tech president Bob Bell does push-ups in the end zone with the Golden Eagle cheerleaders, counting out Tech's points during the game
-- photos by Tony Marable
Here is a running notebook of the game:
- The honorary coin for tonight's toss is provided by the Wounded
Warriors Project and is being presented by Major Russ Heidel, a
member of the 101st airborn division recently redeployed from
"Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan. Major Heidel is an
alumni of Tennessee Tech and commissioned from TTY Army ROTC
- Tech's senior quarterback Lee Sweeney enters the game just one pass attempt shy of tying the school record for a career. The fourth-year starter has thrown 831 passes in his first three years as Tech's gunslinger. Sweeney is also within reach of most of the rest of Tech's offensive records. He needs just 571 yards of total offense to pass Robert Craft's all-time record. He is also 643 passing yards shy of Craft's all-time mark of 6,032.
- Pikeville College has won the toss and they will receive the
opening kickoff. They will defend the north goal.
- Tech's opening kickoff trickled out-of-bounds. Pikeville will start the action from their 40 yard-line.
- On Pikeville's second play from scrimmage Tech senior co-captain Brendan Fisher comes up with his first career interception. Two handoff's to Donte Gay later the Golden Eagles were in the endzone and up by a touchdown. Tech leads 7-0.
- The Golden Eagle defense got its second interception of the night on Pikeville's second drive. On a long pass downfield a Pikeville receiver tipped the pass up into the air and eventually into the hand of Dustin Dillehay. The interception was the first of Dillehay's career.
- Another impressive offensive series for the Golden Eagles was capped off with a 1-yard touchdown run by Cedric Wilkerson. Donte Gay carried much of the load with some impressive runs. Gay has racked up 57 yards on five carries so with 2:20 remaining in the first quarter. Tech leads 14-0.
- Tech's 89-yard touchdown drive was longer than any scoring
drive the Golden Eagles put together in the entire 2008 season. The
longest scoring drive the Golden Eagles had last season was 84
yards against Austin Peay.
- A one-yard touchdown run by quarterback Lee Sweeney caps Tech's third scoring drive of the night. Tech leads 21-0.
- The Golden Eagles got in the endzone for the fourth time when Sweeney hooked up with sophomore Alden Olverson for a 53-yard touchdown strike. The touchdown marked Olverson's first career reception, as he played defense during his freshman season for the Golden Eagles. Tech leads 28-0.
- For the third time in the first half, the Golden Eagles scored
a touchdown on a 1-yard touchdown run. This time it was Cedric
Wilkerson who got into the endzone just before halftime.
Tech leads 34-0.
- The Golden Eagles scored a touchdown on all of their first half possesions. At the break Tech leads in total yards 277-88. The Golden Eagles have 133 rush yards and 144 passing yards.
- Senior quarterback Lee Sweeney set the all-time Tech record for pass attempts with 12 attempts (10 completions) in the first half. He is one touchdown pass shy of tying the school record of 38 held by Robert Craft.
- The Golden Eagle backfield has been spectacular during the first half. Tremain Hudson rushed for 59 yards on 7 carries (8.4 YPC), Dontey Gay accumulated 57 yards on 5 carries (11.4 YPC) and Henry Sailes has 23 yards on two carries (11.5 YPC).
- Out of the four Golden Eagles who caught a pass in the first
half, three of them were making their first career receptions.
Freshmen Zack Ziegler and Demetrious Garrett each had two catches,
while former defensive player caught a 53-yard touchdown pass.
- The Golden Eagles received the kick to start the third quarter, and within one play have the ball in Pikeville Territory.
- Freshman kicker Tim Donegan converted his first career field
goal, a 28-yarder to put Tech up
- Redshirt freshman quarterback Tre Lamb took over the Golden Eagle offense to start the fourth quarter, and he looked good doing it. Lamb led Tech on a 6-play, 58-yard touchdown drive.Tech leads 44-0.
- Pikeville got on the scoreboad with just under four minutes to play when Jeremy Mobley broke free for a 52-yard touchdown run.Tech leads 44-7.
- Tech junior Jimmy Blair got in on the action in a big way in the fourth quarter. On Tech's four-play scoring drive Blair carried the ball four times for a total of 53 yards, including a 35 yard burst and a 15-yard touchdown scamper. Tech leads 51-7.
- Pikeville added a field goal with 10 seconds remaining before
time runs out. Tech wins 51-10. FIREWORKS!