Homecoming Memories: Tech clinches Sgt. York Trophy in ’09 win over Tigers

One of the best ingredients in the atmosphere surrounding Homecoming is the mixing of the memories from alumni who return to campus to reminisce.

It’s Homecoming Week on the Tennessee Tech campus. No doubt it will be another memorable contest for the Golden Eagles, who are making a strong bid for their first Ohio Valley Conference championship since 1976. This year’s game will set the tone for the memories brought back to future Homecoming games.

Tech and Murray State will square off Saturday at 1:30 p.m. in Tucker Stadium. Because of the team’s current success and Top 25 rankings, Tech officials are anticipating one of the largest crowds in several years.

Tickets are on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center or by calling (931) 372-3940.

Not only did the Golden Eagles ruin OVC rival Jacksonville State’s Homecoming with a thrilling 21-14 victory last Saturday, Tech is now tied with JSU and Eastern Kentucky atop the OVC with 4-1 conference records.

With the level of importance of each of Tech’s remaining three games rising by the minute, there is no doubt that the Golden Eagles will leave behind some vivid new memories before it is all said and done.

The following is one in a series of stories recalling some of the most memorable Homecoming games of the past 20 years. Today’s memory is from 2009, Tech’s most recent Homecoming victory:

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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. - The date was Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009. Halloween and Homecoming --  a frightful combination as Tech matched up against the Tennessee State Tigers in a game that went down to the final minutes. The game was also Tech's chance to clinch the Sgt. York Trophy.

During the very first possession of the game, Caleb Mitchell sacked the Tiger quarterback and caused a fumble at TSU’s 24-yard line. Soon after, Dontay Gay scored the first touchdown of the night.

After an interception by Mitchell with 5:49 left to play in the first quarter, Collin Allen snatched a pass from Lee Sweeney to put Tech in the lead, 13-0.

Late in the first quarter, TSU’s Sidney Tarver made an interception and ran 89 yards to the end zone for a touchdown.

The clock ran down without either team scoring until about midway through the fourth quarter. After a touchdown by Calvin McNairl of TSU, game was tied at 13-all

The Golden Eagles and the Tigers continued to battle. Nearly four minutes later, Golden Eagle All-American Tim Benford made an impossible catch on a 28-yard pass from Sweeney. Breaking double coverage in the corner of the end zone, Benford scored the game-winner and lifted Tech to a 21-13 lead. Tech’s defense sealed the victory and the Golden Eagles captured the coveted Sgt. York Trophy.