August 17, 2013

CAMP NOTEBOOK: Final scrimmage caps largely successful Gathering of Eagles


By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator

Scroll to the bottom to view a video on Saturday's scrimmage

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – It was a jam-packed Saturday for Tennessee Tech football fans at the annual Gathering of Eagles. Golden Eagle fans enjoyed a surplus sale, kid's zone, women's clinic, picnic, and football scrimmage prior to getting the chance to meet the members of the Tennessee Tech football team.

The entire day was a resounding success as much of the t-shirts and Tech memorabilia at the surplus sales quickly disappeared as Golden Eagle fans showed their support. The kid's zone was wildy popular as children of all ages enjoyed bouncy slides, moonwalks, face painting, and a balloon booth while hanging out with the Golden Eagle cheer squad.

For the first time in Tech athletics history, head coach Watson Brown led a women's clinic for women wanting to learn more about the sport of football. The event was an instant hit with over 50 fans in attendance to learn from one of the most experienced coaches in NCAA football.

 As always the picnic was enjoyed by all in attendance as Tennessee Tech fans were provided free hot dogs, chips, cookies, and Pepsi products while enjoying music provided by 98.5 Kiss FM. The Golden Eagle volleyball team was also in attendance, signing autographs for Tech fans while handing out posters with schedules for many of the fall events.

Head Coach Watson Brown addresses the attendees of the first-ever
Golden Eagle Football Women's Clinic.

Oh, and there was some football too.

The Tennessee Tech football team held its final scrimmage of the year, providing Golden Eagle fans with a sense of what to expect in the coming weeks when the team takes the field for real. The team didn't disappoint either as the offense really clicked on its way to five touchdowns and three field goals.

"I thought we were better today than we were last week," said Brown. "I thought the scrimmage was much better. We had way fewer penalties, maybe four on the whole day. And that's with two team's going. That's a very good improvement."

Leading the offensive charge on the day were the quarterbacks and receivers, accounting for 376 of the team's 544 total yards and three touchdowns. Freshman Brock McCoin led all signal callers with a perfect day through the air. The Livingston, Tenn. native finished 3-of-3 for 107 yards, including an impressive 61 yard strike to freshman tight end Dametris Watson.

Another freshman quarterback, Charlie High, built some buzz by completing seven passes for 97 yards and touchdown. The 12-yard pass was a beautiful ball to freshman tight end Hayden Freels in the corner of the end zone. Freshman Trent Thompson and junior Darian Stone also threw touchdown passes on the day with Stone connecting on a 20-yard sting to sophomore receiver Krys Cates. Stone finished 4-of-7 with a TD pass while racking up 31 yards on the ground on just two carries. Freshman Jared Davis completed 8-of-11 tosses for 81 yards on the day as well.

The receiving core was very well spread out on the day as 14 different receivers caught passes on Saturday. Sophomore Neil Gannaway led the way with four receptions, totaling 58 yards. Watson racked up the most yards with his lone catch of the day, totaling 61 yards of offense. Junior tight end DaJuan Brown caught two passes for 40 yards and freshman athlete Jerquin Vines added three catches for 31 yards and touchdown.

Sophomore Steve Wilson made three big grabs, finishing with 48 yards receiving and junior Cody Matthews made the most of his limited action with two snags for 29 yards. Also topping the 30-yard plateau was sophomore receiver Josh Smith who caught three balls for 39 yards.

"You got a taste of this receiving core and what they can do," said Brown. "There are a lot of guys who catch the ball and make plays and a lot of them did today. It really wasn't just one guy here or there, it was a total team effort. That looked good to me."

 Redshirt freshman running back Isaiah McKinney led all rushers with 44 yards on 12 carries and a score. Senior back Bud Golden added the other rushing touchdown for the Golden Eagle offense while carrying the ball six times to a tune of 33 yards. Twelve different Tech players rushed at least once on the day, piling up 168 yards and two scores on the ground.

The kickers were in great form as well. Sophomore Chris Harris finished 3-of-3 on extra points while adding a 27-yard field goal. Freshman Jonathan King and junior Zach Sharp each tallied an extra point with Sharp booting a huge 52-yard field goal that really got the crowd going. While the kick was not official, it finished just one yard shy of the school record of 53 yards for longest field goal.

"This is a very young team," said Brown. "There is experience after the debacle of last year with all the injuries where a lot of people had to play. But it's a young team. You're going to see a lot of these faces for awhile."

Following the scrimmage, the Tech football team hung around to sign autographs and interact with the fans.

The Golden Eagles open the schedule on Thursday, Aug. 29, when they host Cumberland University at 7 p.m. The Kiss 98.5 FM Tailgate Park will open at 4 p.m.

Photos by Thomas Cohern, Jim Dillon, Jocelyn VerVelde, Matt Wagner, and Mike Lehman