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COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- One team is fighting to stay in the hunt for the 2012 Ohio Valley Conference championship. The other team may be out of contention for the title, but can still play a huge role in who claims the trophy.
Two of the three teams that shared the OVC title a year ago, Eastern Kentucky and Tennessee Tech square off Saturday night in Tucker Stadium in a rivalry that has seen some incredibly close contests in recent years.
Last year, the never-say-die Golden Eagles earned a 28-21 victory on the road.
This year, the Colonels are 3-1 in the OVC and hoping to stay in the chase. EKU has OVC wins over Jacksonville State, UT Martin and Austin Peay, but suffered a 23-20 loss at Tennessee State.
The Golden Eagles, meanwhile, have been plagued by injuries and are 0-3 in the league with losses at Southeast Missouri and Murray State, and at home to JSU.
EKU holds a commanding 50-18 lead in the all-time series, but Tech has wins in 2006 and 2011.
Two special events will be featured when the teams take the field -- it's Academic Excellence Night, when area Honor students are recognized in the pregame; and it's the first-ever Golden Eagle Blackout. Not only will the team wear black uniforms for the first time, fans are also encouraged to wear black to the game and the first 2,500 will recieve a free blackout tee shirt.
Several Golden Eagle players are questionable for the game due to injuries as coach Watson Brown and his staff continue to juggle the lineup. Already Tech has had 23 players miss at least one game due to injury and seven — many of them starters — are lost for the season.
Visit or call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center (931-372-3940) for ticket information.
#23 Eastern Kentucky Colonels (5-2, 3-1 OVC)
at Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (2-4, 0-3 OVC)
Saturday, Oct. 20 • 7:00 p.m. CT
Tucker Stadium (16,500) • Cookeville, Tenn.
TV:........................................ WCTE/OVC Digital Network
Live Stats: http://livestats.prestosports.com/ttusports/fball
Series Record:.................... Eastern Kentucky leads 50-18
Last Meeting:........... Tennessee Tech won 28-21 (11/21/11)
Dean Hood at Eastern Kentucky:.................. 31-22 (5 yrs.)
Dean Hood Overall:................................................. same
Watson Brown at Tennessee Tech:................ 27-35 (6 yrs.)
Watson Brown Overall:......................... 121-186-1 (28 yrs.)
Eastern Kentucky Last Week:..... W, 45-14 vs. Austin Peay
Tennessee Tech Last Week:........................................ Idle
GAME NOTES: Sitting a game out of first place in the OVC standings, Eastern Kentucky will travel to face a Tennessee Tech team coming off a bye week and looking to snap a losing streak. Eastern Kentucky had won nine of the last 10 meetings in the series until a season ago when Tennessee Tech came out on top 28-21 on its way to a share of the OVC Championship. Both teams entered that contest nationally-ranked (TTU was 20th, EKU 25th) and it was Eastern Kentucky who jumped out to a 14-7 lead. The game was tied at 21 early in the fourth quarter before Tech took the next drive and marched 58 yards in 11 plays, capping the drive with a four-year run by quarterback Tre Lamb that proved to be the game-winner. Lamb completed 16-of-20 passes for two touchdowns and ran for 70 yards and the game-winning score. Adam Urbano added 137 yards on the ground for the Golden Eagles, who finished the night with 241 team rushing yards. Matt Denham led the Colonels rushing attack, netting 151 yards on 25 carries.
SCOUTING EASTERN KENTUCKY: After suffering its first loss of the season to a FCS foe two weeks ago, Eastern Kentucky rebounded with a 45-14 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Homecoming this past weekend. Senior quarterback T.J. Pryor continued his assault on the EKU record book by breaking the school records for career touchdown passes and completions. Pryor completed his first seven passes of the game, including an 84-yard touchdown strike to Cameron Bailey. He finished the game 8-of-13 for 232 yards and two touchdowns. In OVC history Pryor now ranks eighth all-time in total offense (7,506). Pryor leads the OVC and ranks third nationally in passing efficiency (171.13). Senior running back Matt Denham carried the ball 20 times for 114 yards and two touchdowns; he has rushed for 100 or more yards in 13 of his last 15 games. Denham currently ranks 10th nationally in rushing (124.86 yards/game). Defensive back Justin Bell picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown. It marked his second interception of the season and sixth of his career. As a team Eastern Kentucky ranks sixth in passing efficiency (154.53), seventh in 3rd down conversion percentage (51.11%), eighth in time of possession (33:27) and passes intercepted (10) nationally. EKU is ranked No. 23 in this week's Sports Network Top 25, while coming in at No. 24 in the FCS Coaches poll.
SCOUTING TENNESSEE TECH: After starting the season 2-0, Tennessee Tech has dropped four games in a row, including three-straight OVC contests. The Golden Eagles had a bye week last week, and hope that week can help the team get healthy, as numerous injuries have hurt the team's depth. In the squad's last game the Golden Eagles led Jacksonville State 28-23 late in the fourth quarter but could not hold onto the lead and lost 37-28. Junior Doug Page made the most of injuries in the backfield, as he scored his first two collegiate touchdowns. Bud Golden added 45 yards to lead the TTU attack. Junior Da'Rick Rogers caught five passes for 78 yards before having to leave the game with an injury in the third quarter. LaDarrius Vanlier, who was named National Specialist of the Week two weeks ago, had 120 all-purpose yards including two catches for 25 yards and 95 yards on kickoff returns. Sophomore Austin Tallant recorded a career-high 17 tackles for the defense and also broke up a pass attempt.