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August 21, 2010

Camp Notebook: Three turnover, six touchdowns featured in scrimmage

Photo: Head coach Watson Brown watches as his players sign autographs Saturday following the scrimmage as part of the annual Gathering of Eagles. (photo by Kate Nicewicz)

Hear comments by coach Watson Brown

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – As head coach, Watson Brown just can’t lose when his team scrimmages against itself. Then again, he just can’t win, either.

“A head coach is never pleased when you’re scrimmaging yourself. If one side gets three turnovers you’re always going to be mad at the other side for giving up three turnovers,” Brown said.

Tennessee Tech’s offense produced more than 400 yards on 64 plays Saturday and reached the end zone five times, but the defense came up with three turnovers – two interceptions and a fumble recovery – as the Golden Eagles entertained 1,200 fans in Tucker Stadium during the annual Gathering of Eagles.

“It was a nice turnout for the kids,” Brown said of the crowd. “It was nice to have people who care about them come out here and support them. It’s the same with us, we care about the community and we want to do everything we can to be a part of the community so this was a good day. “

Quarterbacks Tre Lamb and Cass Barnes were both effective, combining for 201 of the team’s 214 passing yards.

Lamb, a sophomore from Calhoun, Ga.,  was 6-for-8 for 80 yards and threw the only touchdown pass of the afternoon, a three-yard connection with freshman tight end Doug Page. Lamb also rushed three times for 35 yards including a 23-yard touchdown run on his second play of the scrimmage.

Barnes was 12-for-16 for 121 yards with one interception on the first series of the day.

“I thought Tre had a really consistent day,” Brown said. “Cass and Tre played about a half of football each. You’re not going to get more rhythm than that when you scrimmage, so I think they both did well.”

The offense also got rushing touchdowns from Jocques Crawford (photo by Nick Burns), Tremaine Hudson and Zack Ziegler.

The scoreboard was also dented by placekickers Matthew Barker and Tim Donegan who combined to go 5-for-5 on PAT tries and each add a field goal in their only attempts.

In all, including a 72-yard punt return by Henry Sailes – his second in a week – the fans who sat through the two-hour scrimmage saw a total of  47 points.

In addition to Lamb 115 yards of total offense on just 11 plays, sophomore Demetrous Garrett shined in the scrimmage accounting to 99 all-purpose yards on just four touches. A wide receiver from Nashville via Naval Prep School, Garrett is off to a solid start in his second season as a Golden Eagle. He caught three passes for 75 yards and had one carry for 24 yards.

Ziegler, a sophomore from Greenbrier, Tenn., had 44 all-purpose yards on just five touches.

Still, with all that the offense was doing, Tech’s defense had a few of the biggest moments of the day, including forcing three turnovers.

“Three turnovers is the most we’ve had in quite a while,” Brown said. “It’s something we improved upon last year. We really improved on our turnover margin. The offense didn’t have that many, and it was good to see the defense do that kind of job today.”

“We’ve definitely got to make plays, and one of the things that we’re always looking for is to make turnovers,” said associate head coach Billy Taylor, the team’s defensive coordinator. “We know that the turnover margin is very important to us as a team in winning football games.

“But the big thing about today was we got the chance to look at a lot of players,” Taylor said. “We were very basic out there today, we just wanted to make sure that we were sound, and I think that we accomplished the things we needed to today.”

Junior Justin Vann (photo by Nick Burns) stepped in front of a receiver and picked off a pass attempt by Barnes, returning it 53 yards to snuff out a promising opening drive after Barnes had moved the team from his own 35 to the 28.

The second big defensive play of the day was a quarterback sack by Tommy McBride and Travis Adkins, who caught up with Barnes on a third-and-nine near midfield.

Lamb, who directed the Golden Eagles to touchdowns on his first three series, marched Tech 70 yards in 10 plays including a 34-yard pass pay to Garrett. Intended for Sailes, the ball was deflected and Garrett snapped it up for the big gain. After a 17yard completion to Ziegler to the 13, Crawford powered into the end zone from the one for the second TD of the day.

Two plays later, senior Corbin Miles intercepted a pass thrown by junior Clint Brewster. It was the second interception in two scrimmages for Miles, who got the starting nod in place of injured Caleb Mitchell.

Lamb took the tam 30 yards in four plays, including a 24-yard sweep by Garrett to the six. On third-and-goal, Lamb hooked up with Page for a touchdown.

Marcus Edwards, who is adjusting to a new position since last week’s scrimmage, is apparently learning his new role well. He was credited with a quarterback hurry on the next series and later knocked down a pass at the line of scrimmage.

Lamb and Barnes combined for the next scoring drive. Lamb got things started with a 14-yard pass to Colin Allen and moved the team into the defensive end of the field. Barnes took over and got Garrett on back-to-back completions of 14 and 27 yards down to the two. Ziegler carried three final two yards for the score.

The final big defensive play came when DeShawn Harris stripped the football out of the hands of the ball carrier and returned the fumble nearly 40 yards to the 23. Barnes hit Allen for 17 yards before Hudson crashed into the end zone from the six for the final touchdown of the day.

Freshman quarterback Darian Stone moved the offense to the eight-yard line where Donegan kicked a 21-yard field goal.  Barnes then took the squad to the seven to set the stage for a 23-yard field goal by Barker to close the day’s action.

Following the scrimmage, the entire team returned to the field to meet fans and sign autographs to cap off the Gathering of Eagles.

The Golden Eagles get the day off from practice Sunday, then return to Overall Field Monday at 7:30 a.m. for their final week of fall camp.

The season opener is Saturday, Sept. 4, at the University of Arkansas at 6 p.m.  The first home game is Thursday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. against Lane College.

Season tickets to watch the Golden Eagles are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center weekdays from 8 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4:30 p.m., or by calling (931) 372-3940. Tickets may also be ordered online at TTUsports.com.