OVC Championship season comes to an end for Golden Eagles
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Central Arkansas used a stingy defensive performance to take a 34-14 victory away from Tucker Stadium in the first round of the FCS Playoffs Saturday, ending what has been a special season for Tennessee Tech.
The Golden Eagles won their first Ohio Valley Conference title since 1975 and made their first-ever appearance in the FCS Playoffs in addition to setting numerous team and individual season and career records.
On Saturday, the Central Arkansas defensive front was too much for Tech. The Bears held TTU's usually balanced offensive attack to just 58 rushing yards, a number that stood at just 10 at halftime. UCA quarterback Nathan Dick also enjoyed a solid day, completing 23 of 29 passes for 319 yards and two touchdowns.
Tennessee Tech set new single-season records for both points and first downs on Saturday. The Golden Eagles finished the 2011-12 season with 355 points and 237 first downs.
Golden Eagle quarterback Tre Lamb had a strong afternoon despite the loss, completing 30 of 44 passes for 291 yards and two touchdowns. Tim Benford was Tech's leading receiver, catching seven passes for 97 yards.
Both defenses held strong early before Central Arkansas got on the board with a clock-chewing seven-play, 77-yard scoring drive which they capped off with a one-yard Terence Bobo touchdown run. The Bears converted numerous first downs on the drive, which concluded with 2:16 left on the first-quarter clock.
The Bears then took advantage of a muffed kick return by Cody Forbes, recovering the fumble at the TTU 25-yard line and getting a 25-yard field goal from kicker Eddie Camara at the beginning of the second quarter to take a 10-0 lead.
The Golden Eagles were able to answer with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that ended in a diving touchdown catch by Cody Matthews on an 11-yard throw from Tre Lamb, cutting the lead to 10-7 with 8:40 left in the half.
Central Arkansas would put another score on the board before halftime, however, marching 97 yards downfield to score on a one-yard quarterback sneak by Nathan Dick with 1:55 left in the half.
Tennessee Tech got the ball first in the second half but couldn't move the ball, and Central Arkansas extended its advantage with a 35-yard field goal by Camara to make the score 20-7. The Bears held TTU once again and got the ball back, scoring almost immediately on a 42-yard touchdown strike from Dick to Jesse Grandy to take a commanding 27-7 lead.
Tech would score once more in the game, capping a 15-play, 94-yard drive with a six-yard pass from Lamb to Stevens with 13:13 left in the fourth quarter. Central Arkansas put the game out of reach, however with an 87-yard drive of their own that resulted in a 30-yard scoring strike from Dick to a wide-open Thomas Hart.
Dontey Gay was Tech's leading rusher, carrying 10 times for 36 yards. In addition to Benford's 97 receiving yards, the Golden Eagles also got big games from senior tight end Charlie Stevens, who caught five passes for 56 yards, and Zack Ziegler, who hauled in seven passes for 59 yards.
Central Arkansas Jackie Hinton carried 19 times for 87 yards, and Bears' receiver Isaiah Jackson caught three passes for 75 yards in addition to the 94 receiving yards accumulated by Steele.
The game marked the final performance at Tech for the team's seniors Travis Adkins, Dominick Baker, Tim Benford, Nick Campbell, Ben Davis, Dwight Evans, Dontey Gay, Jamere Hogue, Malcolm Jones, Jake McIntosh, Matt Mercy, Alden Olverson, J.R. Richmond, Scott Schweitzer, Charlie Stevens, Ryan St. John, Richmond Tooley, Justin Vann, Corey Watson and Ryan Weeks.
Central Arkansas advances to play at Montana in the second round of the FCS Playoffs next week while the Golden Eagles finish with a 7-4 record and a 6-2 mark in OVC play.
*Tennessee Tech will play in the FCS Playoffs for the first time ever this afternoon when they square off against Southland Conference runner-up Central Arkansas. The matchup will also be the first-ever between the two schools.
*The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN3.com. The Golden Eagles currently have a two-game winning streak when they have played on national television -- Tech beat Southeast Missouri in Cape Girardeau in 2007 and defeated Eastern Kentucky at Tucker Stadium in 2006.
*Tech has the opportunity to set several single-season records in today's game. The Golden Eagles have scored 341 points in 10 games and need two points to match the school mark of 343 set in 1977. Tech has 218 first downs this year and needs three more to equal the all-time season record of 221 set in 2004. The third record within reach is the mark of 28 rushing touchdowns, set in 1977 and tied in 2000. Through 10 games, the Golden Eagles have 26 rushing touchdowns. Tech is also averaging 34.1 points per game through 10 games, which would be a school record.
*The Golden Eagle Marching Band is taking the field for its pregame performance. Sixteen minutes until game time!
*Temperature should be around 66 degrees at kickoff and will hover in the mid-60s throughout the afternoon under partly cloudy skies. Rain is expected to hold off until later tonight.
*The Golden Eagles are wearing purple uniforms with gold lettering, purple pants and white helmets. Central Arkansas is wearing white uniforms with purple lettering, white pants and silver helmets.
*Captains for Tech are Jake McIntosh, Alden Olverson, Scott Schweitzer and Travis Adkins. Captains for Central Arkansas are Jackie Hinton and Justin Williams.
*Tennessee Tech has won the toss and deferred to the second half. Central Arkansas will receive and defend the north end zone. Tech will defend the south end zone.
*The Golden Eagles will have the aid of the wind in the first and third quarters while the Bears will have the wind in the second and fourth periods.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES
*Central Arkansas begins its drive at its own 20 yard line.
*Nathan Dick pass intended for Dominique Croom falls incomplete on third and 8. Bears facing 4th and 8 from their own 22 yard line.
*Punt into the wind is downed at the UCA 44-yard line. The Golden Eagles begin their drive first and 10 near midfield.
*Dontey Gay wrapped up at the line of scrimmage on second down, setting up third and seven from the 47.
*Tre Lamb hits Tim Benford for a 22-yard completion and a TTU first down at the UCA 31-yard line.
*TTU facing 3rd and 14 after two plays in which they lost yardage.
*Lamb completes short pass to Dontey Gay, who carries to the 23-yard line, setting up 4th and 2 for Tech.
*Lamb pass intended for William Stevens falls incomplete. Central Arkansas takes over at its own 23 yard line.
*Holding penalty pushes the Bears back to their own 17, where they'll face 2nd and 15.
*Dick's pass complete to Isaiah Jackson down the left sideline, a 13-yard completion to the 38 yard line and a UCA first down.
*Pass interference called on TTU's Cory Webber, giving Central Arkansas first and 10 at the TTU 45.
*Dick's pass complete to Thomas Hart over the middle on third down, giving UCA first down at the TTU 29 yard line.
*Facing third down again, Dick's pass complete to Jackie Hinton, who is tackled at the 21, one yard shy of the first down. The Bears face 4th and 1 at their own 21.
*Timeout on the field.
*Dick throws a short pass to Croom, who gets just enough for the first down. First and 10 UCA at the TTU 19 yard line.
*Dick pass into the end zone nearly intercepted by Richmond Tooley on 2nd down. UCA facing 3rd and 5 from the 14.
*Dick hits Terence Bobo on an out for a seven-yard gain and another third-down conversion for UCA. First and goal Bears from theh seven.
*Dwight Evans and Austin Tallant combine for a big stop on second and goal from the 1. UCA has third and 1 from the 1 yard line.
*Bobo finds a hole into the end zone this time for a one-yard TD run. Eddie Camara boots the extra point through and Central Arkansas leads 7-0 with 2:16 left in the first quarter.
*UCA scoring drive was 17 plays, 77 yards, eight-plus minutes.
*Cody Forbes fumbles on the kickoff return, recovered by Central Arkansas' Willie Mathews at the Tech 25-yard line. Bears take over first and 10.
*Anthony Blackmon carries for a UCA first down at the 14-yard line.
*False start penalty pushes UCA back to the 17. Bears facing 3rd and 13.
*Dick pass is complete to Derrick Steele, but Cory Webber brings him down short of the first down. Bears facing 4th and 4 at the 8 yard line.
*End of the first quarter: Central Arkansas 7, Tennessee Tech 0
SECOND QUARTER NOTES
*Camara field goal is good from 25 yards out. Central Arkansas leads 10-0 with 14:56 left in the half.
*Tennessee Tech will begin its drive at its own 20 yard line after a touchback.
*Zack Ziegler makes a beautiful catch as he falls out of bounds at the 40-yard line. First down conversion on 3rd and 10 on the pass from Tre Lamb. A 21-yard first down completion.
*Timeout TTU. Golden Eagles have 2nd and 11 from the 39.
*Lamb hits Charlie Stevens on a short pattern over the middle and Stevens carries all the way to the UCA 36 yard line. A 25-yard first down completion for the Golden Eagles! Stevens, a senior, has caught passes in 10 of 11 games this season.
*A holding penalty moves Tech back 10 yards to the 46. 1st and 20 for the Golden Eagles.
*Timeout UCA. Tech facing 3rd and 17 from the UCA 43.
*Lamb pass complete to Cody Matthews for an eight-yard gain, but it isn't enough for the first down. Tech faceing 4th and 9 from the 35.
*Lamb steps up to avoid the blitz and delivers a bullet to Matthews for an 11-yard completion and a Tech first down on 4th down! Golden Eagles at the UCA 24 yard line.
*Another third down conversion for TTU as Lamb finds Benford down the left sideline for a 15-yard gain. First and 10 from the 12 yard line.
*TOUCHDOWN TECH! Lamb on the run finds Charlie Stevens for a diving catch in the end zone. An 11-yard touchdown pass and Zach Sharp adds the extra point. Central Arkansas leads 10-7 with 8:40 left in the half.
*Both teams' touchdown drives have been into the wind so far today.
*Sharp now has 72 kicking points this season and is second on Tennessee Tech's all-time list.
*A new school record goes to Tre Lamb, who is responsible for 22 touchdowns this season.
*UCA will begin its drive at its own 27 yard line.
*Dick pass complete to Derrick Steele on second down is a 35-yard completion and a first down for Central Arkansas at the TTU 38 yard line.
*Dwight Evans and Howard Griffin combine to bring down the UCA ballcarrier on first down and force a fumble, recovered by Corey Watson at the TTU 37 yard line. Golden Eagles' ball first and 10!
*Lamb delivers a first-down pass over the middle to Charlie Stevens An 11-yard completion for a TTU first down at the UCA 49-yard line.
*Lamb pass is batted at the line of scrimmage and falls incomplete on 3rd down. Tech facing 4th and 7 from the UCA 45.
*Nick Campbell punt is downed by Patrick Prewitt at the UCA 3-yard line. Bears have 97 yards to go with 5:23 left in the half.
*Nice catch by Derrick Steele on the pass from Dick to the right sideline. A 15-yard completion gives UCA first down at its own 18.
*No one there for the Golden Eagles as Dick hits Isaiah Jackson streaking down the left sideline for a 51-yard completion. First and 10 UCA at the TTU 31.
*Third down conversion for the Bears as Dick hits Croom on a comeback. A 12-yard completion sets up UCA first and 10 at the 15 yard line.
*Jackie Hinton carries up the middle for a 12-yard gain and another UCA first down, first and goal from the three.
*Dick gets in the end zone on the 1-yard quarterback sneak on third down. Touchdown Central Arkansas. Camara adds the extra point and the Bears lead 17-7 with 1:55 left in the first half.
*Nine play, 98 yard drive takes 3:28 for Central Arkansas.
*Tech will begin its drive at its own 18-yard line with 1:51 left on the clock.
*Adam Urbano with a big carry on 2nd and 4, a 12-yard that gives the Golden Eagles a first down at their own 47 with 1:10 left on the clock.
*Lamb hits Benford over the middle for a first down at the UCA 38-yard line. A 10-yard completion on second down gives Tech first and 10 with 45 seconds to play.
*Timeout Tech with 37 seconds remaining. 2nd and 7 at the UCA 35 for the Golden Eagles, who trail 17-7.
*Lamb sacked by Frank Newsome back at the 43 yard line. Tech facing 3rd and 16 with 29 seconds left and timeout on the field. Golden Eagles have no more time outs.
*Lamb pass over the middle dropped by Urbano. 4th and 16 Golden Eagles with 25 seconds left.
*Tech takes a delay of game penalty to back the ball up to the UCA 47.
*Campbell punt is downed at the UCA 14-yard line, where the Bears take over with 14 seconds left in the half.
*Bears down the ball and will go into halftime with a 17-7 lead.
*Central Arkansas finishes the first half with 234 total yards while the Golden Eagles have 180. Both teams have had most of their success through the air. Tech has 170 yards passing while UCA has 175. The Golden Eagles have just 10 rushing yards while the Bears have carried for 59 yards.
*UCA quarterback Nathan Dick has completed 15 out of 20 passes for 175 yards. Tre Lamb has completed 17 of 23 passes for 170 yards.
*Isaiah Jackson has caught two passes for 64 yards for UCA while Derrick Steele has hauled in three catches for 59 yards. Tech's leading receiver is Tim Benford, who has caught five passes for 50 yards.
*During the first half, Tech set new single-season records for points and first downs. The Golden Eagles have scored 348 points this season and accumulated 228 first downs.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES
*Big kick return by Cody Forbes gives Tech first and 10 at its own 38 yard line.
*Lamb's pass over the middle to Stevens on third down isn't enough for the first. Tech faces 4th down and 4 from the 44 yard line.
*Big punt return by UCA's Isaiah Jackson, but it will come back due to a holding penalty. Bears will have first and 10 from their own 24 yard line.
*Dick completes a short out to Steele for a UCA first down. Five-yard pass sets up the Bears at their own 37-yard line.
*Dick converts 3rd and 2 on a second-effort quarterback keeper. First and 10 UCA at their own 47.
*Dick pass is complete to Jackson on the left sideline on first down for another fresh set of downs for the Bears at the Tech 42-yard line.
*UCA converts 3rd down on a 15-yard pass from Dick to Steele over the middle. Steele makes a nice diving catch to set up the Bears first and 10 at the TTU 24.
*Dwight Evans brings down the UCA ballcarrier short of the first down on 3rd and 2. Bears facing 4th and 4 from the 19 yard line.
*35-yard field goal attempt by Camara is good. Central Arkansas leads 20-7 with 7:37 left to play in the third quarter. A 13-play, 58-yard drive.
*Give credit to the Golden Eagle defense for holding the Bears to a field goal on the drive and keeping the game a two-possession affair.
*Touchback on the kickoff and Tech will begin its drive at its own 20.
*First down pass from Lamb to Stevens is negated on a holding penalty. Golden Eagles face 2nd and 20 from the 10-yard line.
*Tech will punt on 4th and 19 from their own 11.
*Kedrick Towles lays a nice hit on the UCA punt returner. Bears will start their drive at the TTU 46 yard line.
*Tech injury is starting middle linebacker Howard Griffin. Griffin is walking off the field. UCA has 2nd and 6 from the TTU 42-yard line.
*Touchdown strike from Dick to a wide-open Jesse Grandy down the left sideline. Grandy walks into the end zone. PAT gives Central Arkansas a 27-7 lead with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
*Time is of the essence for the Golden Eagles, who need to answer on this drive.
*Holding penalty called on Tech on the kick return. Ball will be placed at the 13-yard line, where Tech starts its drive.
*Dontey Gay carries seven yards for the Tech first down at the 19-yard line.
*False start penalty pushes the Golden Eagles back to the 15 yard line, where they'll have 1st and 15.
*UCA calls timeout with 2:53 left in the third quarter. Tech faces 3rd and 14 from the 16-yard line.
*First down Golden Eagles on a big conversion! Lamb zings a pass to Tim Benford over the middle for a 24-yard gain.
*Gay breaks several tackles en route to a nine-yard carry and a TTU first down at the UCA 47-yard line. Tech finally able to get some yardage on the ground.
*Benford makes a diving catch in double coverage over the middle on teh delivery from Lamb. A 23-yard pass and a third-down conversion for the Golden Eagles, who are at the 22-yard line of UCA!
*Third quarter expires with Central Arkansas leading Tennessee Tech 27-7, but the Golden Eagles are driving. The fourth quarter will begin with Tech having 2nd and 9 from the UCA 21-yard line.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES
*Lamb gets a Tech first down on the quarterback keeper up the middle on 3rd and 2. Golden Eagles have first and goal from the nine-yard line.
*Timeout Tech. Golden Eagles have 2nd and goal from the six with 13:19 left in the game, trailing 27-7.
*TOUCHDOWN TECH! Charlie Stevens carries in a would-be tackler on a 6-yard scoring pass from Tre Lamb. Sharp adds the PAT and Tech has cut the UCA lead to 27-14 with 13:13 left to play.
*The touchdown pass was the second of the day for Lamb. Lamb is 23-for-32 for 239 yards today.
*Stevens has five catches for 56 yards today.
*A host of Golden Eagle tacklers bring down the UCA returner at the 13-yard line! The Bears will begin deep in their own territory with 13:04 left on the clock.
*Dick pass complete to Derrick Steele on the left sideline for a UCA first down. Late hit penalty called on Tennessee Tech gives the Bears a first down at their own 45 yard line.
*Central Arkansas converts second down on a pass from Dick to Dezmin Lewis on the left sideline. A 10-yard gain on the play to the TTU 45-yard line.
*Jackie Hinton carries for another UCA first down on second down, a six-yard carry to the Tech 30-yard line. Offsetting personal foul penalties after the play.
*Dick hits tight end Thomas Hart over the middle for a Central Arkansas touchdown pass. Extra point is good and UCA leads 34-14 with 9:49 left on the clock.
*Dick is 22-for-28 today for 302 yards passing.
*Steele is the leading receiver with six catches for 94 yards.
*Cody Forbes with a nice kick return to the TTU 39 yard line, where the Golden Eagles begin 1st and 10.
*First down pass from Lamb to Ziegler for a TTU first down at the UCA 48 yard line. A 10-yard play.
*Shovel pass from Lamb to Doug Page goes for another Golden Eagle first down to the 36 yard line. A 12-yard completion gives Tech another set of downs.
*Adam Urbano finds a hole up the middle and Tech converts 4th and 1 with 6:36 left on the clock. Golden Eagles have first and 10 at the the UCA 21.
*UCA called for a personal foul late hit on first down, giving Tech another first down at the 11-yard line.
*Lamb's pass incomplete on third down, forcing 4th and 9 for Tech at the 10-yard line with 5:10 left on the clock.
*Diving catch by Cody Matthews on a pass from Lamb at the 2-yard line comes up just shy of the first down. UCA takes over first and 10 at its own 2-yard line with 5:02 left to play.
*Dick pass complete to Dezmin Lewis on third down to the 21-yard line. Tack on a Tennessee Tech personal foul and the ball will be placed at the TTU 36. First down UCA with 3:35 left on the clock.
*Jordan Johnson and Taylor Hennigan stop the UCA ballcarrier on third-and-short, setting up 4th and 1 from the UCA 45. Timeout on the field.
*Caleb Mitchell fair catches the UCA punt at the TTU 25-yard line. First and 10 for the Golden Eagles with 1:35 left on the clock.
*Lamb pass complete to Cody Matthews over the middle for a Tech first down to the 36-yard line.
*Lamb pass intercepted by Jerrel McKnight, who returns to the TTU 36. First and 10 Central Arkansas.
*The Bears take a knee and the clock will wind to zero. Final score: Central Arkansas 34, Tennessee Tech 14.