September 25, 2010

Late rally not enough as Golden Eagles drop OVC opener, 23-21

CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. -- Tennessee Tech took an unexpected detour Saturday night in its Ohio Valley Conference opener, spinning into the loss column as Southeast Missouri took advantage of some fourth quarter breaks to claim a 23-21 victory in its home opener in Houck Stadium.

Sophomore quarterback Tre Lamb threw two touchdown passes to junior Tim Benford, including a score in the final minute that brought Tech to within two points but the Golden Eagles weren't able to come up with an onsides kick and SEMO (3-1/2-0) claimed its second OVC victory of the young season.

Tech fell to 1-3 overall and 0-1 within the league, and the Golden Eagles must turn things around in just five days when they return home to host UT Martin Thursday night at 7 p.m.

The SEMO offense ran off 87 plays in the game and marched around its home turf in piling up 467 yards of offense and 31 first downs. Henry Harris rushed 32 times for 196 yards and one touchdown and quarterback Matt Scheible added 82 yards on 20 carries for the Redhawks. Scheible also passed for 114 yards with a 13-for-18 effort and was not sacked.

Tech had 375 yards of offense, rushing for 127 and adding 246 through the air. The Golden Eagles had 47 plays. Jocques Crawford led Tech's ground game with 79 yards on 10 carries. Benford had eight catches for a career-high 177 yards and two touchdowns. Lamb was 13-for-21 for 246 yards, also a career-high. He was sacked once.

SEMO held the ball more than 37 minutes in the contest and converted 10-for-16 on third down.

Defensively, Marty Jones and Dustin Dillehay led the way with 14 tackles each and Kelechi Ordu added 11 tackles.

Tech had just 20 yards in penalties, but two in the fourth quarter were costly. One was a pass interference call after Corbin Miles appeared to have made a great play to break up a pass on a third down. Later, when Tremaine Hudson churned out a kickoff return to the SEMO 40, the play was called back to the Tech 21 on a holding call.

PREGAME NOTES

* Tech is 1-2, following an abbreviated, 43-0 win over Lane College last week in Tucker Stadium in a contest that lasted just under 25 minutes before being called because of weather. SEMO is 2-1 overall/1-0 in the OVC, following a stunning win at FCS No. 5 Southern Illinois last week. The Redhawks own a win over Murray State in OVC play.

* Tech has won four in a row over SEMO, including a 28-16 victory last year in Tucker Stadium. The Golden Eagles own an 11-7 all-time record against the Redhawks in a series that began in 1991.

* The Golden Eagles have won both games against the Redhawks under head coach Watson Brown's direction. The teams didn't meet in 2007, Brown's first season at the Tech helm, while Tech took victories in Cape Girardeau in 2008 and Cookeville in 2009.

* The Golden Eagles have played two games this season without a turnover (Arkansas and Lane). They had five turnovers in the other game (TCU).

* The Golden Eagles have had a 100-yard runner in each of the past two games with SEMO. In 2008, Henry Sailes rushed for 113 yards and one touchdown in just eight carries. Last year, Dontey Gay rushed for 125 and two touchdowns in 20 carries.

* Tech's all-time rushing record and all-time passing record have both come in Houck Stadium against the Redhawks/Indians. In 1993, Michael Penix set Tech's single-game rushiing record with 261 yards against the SEMO Indians. In 2006, Lee Sweeney passed for a single-game record 437 yards against the Redhawks, going 32-for-57.

* The Golden Eagles will wear white jerseys and purple pants for the road game. SEMO will be dressed in red jerseys and black pants.

* Weather conditions, unlike last week against Lane, will be perfect for the game. Temperatures are expected to be around 75 degrees under party sunny/cloud skies at kickoff.

* SEMO won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving Tech the ball on the kickoff.

FIRST QUARTER NOTES

* The Golden Eagle offense was a machine on the opening possession, marching 77 yards in 11 plays for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead. The drive lasted 6:09 before Dontey Gay crossed the goal line from the 11 for the score.

* The Redhawks answered quickly as quarterback Matt Scheible directed the offense 65 yards in eight plays on a 3:15 scoring drive to tie the game, 7-7. Miles Edwards ran nine yards for the touchdown.

* Tech stalled on its only other first quarter possession and Nick Campbell's 33-yard punt put SEMO in motion at its own 15.

* The Redhawks closed the quarter by moving into Golden Eagle territory.

SECOND QUARTER NOTES

* On the second play of the second quarter, Jake McIntosh delivered a smashing tackle on Henry Harris, forcing a fumble that Dustin Dillehay recovered at the Tech 36.

* Campbell punted a second time after a three-and-out, and this one forced a fair catch at the SEMO 11.

* The Redhawks didn't let the poor field position bother them, mounting a long, 78-yard drive to the Tech two-yard line. However, on third-and-goal, Scheible fumbled and McIntosh recovered at the 11 to snuff the potential go-ahead score.

* A 45-yard run by Jocques Crawford came on the first play, moving the ball into SEMO territory and Tech found itself knocking on the door. On third down, Tre Lamb made a great fake into the line and threw a strike over the middle but the pass was dropped. It brought in Matt Barker to attempt a 44-yard field goal and the kick was long enough but wide to the right.

* With 2:01 remaining, SEMO started at its own 27 and put together a 12-play, 66-yard drive that ended with Drew Geldbach kicking a 24-yard field goal on the final play for a 10-7 Redhawk lead at the intermission.

HALFTIME NOTES

* At the half, SEMO had 258 yards of total offense include 164 on the ground and 94 passing. Tech had 174 yaards with 103 rushing and 71 passing.

* Crawford had 73 yards on eight carries in the first half for the Golden Eagles while Henry Harris had 104 yards on 16 tries.

THIRD QUARTER NOTES

* Southeast Missouri drove the length of the field to open the second quarter and built its lead to 17-7 on a TD pass from Scheible to fullback Nathan Grass.

* Following a SEMO kickoff out of bounds, Lamb heaved a 60-yard TD pass to Tim Benford on the first play from scrimmage. Benford went up over the defender to make the catch then cruised 25 yards to the end zone. Barker's PAT made it 17-14 with seven minutes remaining in the third quarter.

* Dillehay delivered the best hit of the night just after the ball arrived on a pass from Scheible to Miles Edwards, knocking it incomplete on third down. A huge SEMO punt pinned Tech deep in its own end, but Tech was able to march to midfield before Campbell punted. His kick was just 22 yards, going out of bounds at the SEMO 35.

* Tech's defense came up with a couple of bigs stops and forced SEMO to think about a third-and-eight as the third quarter ended.

FOURTH QUARTER NOTES

* Geldbach narrowly missed a 44-yard field goal with 11 minutes remaining. Tech went 3-and-out, and the punt was nearly blocked. SEMO took possession at the Redhawk 42.

* Harris rushed for 51 yards on five carries during SEMO's 58-yard, seven-play scoring drive that put the Redhawks up 23-14. The big play was a 27-yard run to the Tech three, and he went the final yards for the score. The missed PAT left it a nine-point margin with 7:02 remaining.

* Tremaine Hudson took the kickoff all the way back to the SEMO 35, but a holding call way back at the 31 left Tech at its own 21 to begin the next possession. A 24-yard pass to Demetrous Garrett got the Golden Eagles moving, but on third-and-four at the SEMO 20, Gay lost the handle and Justin Love receovered with 3:45 to play.

* The TTU defense held and forced a punt which Henry Sailes returned 25 yards to the SEMO 43 with 1:15 to play. Lamb hit Benford for 24 yards, then found the all-OVC receiver in the back of the end zone for a TD with 56 seconds left. Barker's PAT made it 23-21.

* Tech lined up and tried an onsides kick, but SEMO receovered and ran out the clock.