Golden Eagles claim character-testing, 30-27 comeback victory at Hampton
By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
and Rob Schabert, TTU Sports Information Director
HAMPTON, Va. - Tennessee Tech junior quarterback Darian Stone showed exactly what he's made of Saturday night, fighting back from cramps that sidelined him early in the second half to lift the Golden Eagles (2-1) to a 30-27, come-from-behind victory at Hampton University.
While Stone engineered the game-winning drive, he would be the first to give credit to backup quarterback Jared Davis for putting Tech in position to pull out the victory.
Trailing 20-10, Stone was replaced in the third quarter by the redshirt freshman, who drove Tech on a touchdown drive, then directed another scoring drive that ended with Zach Sharp's second field goal of the contest, a 35-yarder that tied the contest at 20-20.
Four minutes later, Sharp's third field goal of the night – this one from 20 yards – put Tech on top, 23-20.
That's when Stone moved Tech's offense 96 yards in 10 plays, firing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Cody Matthews on fourth-and-13, to make it a 10-point lead with 4:09 to go.
"The offense had to get it going to win the game," said head coach Watson Brown. "And it's a lot harder when things aren't going well to all of the sudden turn it around. We're down 10 without our starting quarterback and Jared Davis takes us right down the field to score."
Hampton blitzed Tech for a 59-yard scoring drive to make it 30-27 with 1:43 remaining, but the Golden Eagles were able to run out the clock for their second win of the season and their first road victory since a 28-21 win at Eastern Kentucky in the 2011 championship season.
Stone finished the game 14-for-28 passing for 158 yards and one touchdown, and also rushed 16 times for 52 yards and a score. Davis was 4-for-7 passing for 23 yards.
Junior Cody Forbes was Tech's leading rusher, carrying the ball 19 times for 72 yards , while Matthews finished the game with a career-high nine catches for 114 yards, the second 100-yard receiving game of his career.
Sophomore Ladarius Vanlier had an 80-yard kickoff return after Hampton went up 20-10, setting up the 19-yard scoring drive that Davis directed.
"It (kick return) gave us great field position and then Jared finished it off by taking us into the end zone," Brown said. "That's what you've got to do. You've gotta find something to turn the momentum around and Ladarius helped us do that."
Tech finished the night with 84 plays for 340 yards of offense, while Hampton ran 65 plays for 245 yards. The Pirates were held to 55 rushing yards on 29 carries, and added 190 yards through the air.
Hampton quarterback Jaylian Williamson was 22-for-36 for 190 yards with two touchdowns. Antwon Chisholm had six catches for 36 yards, including the clutch seven-yard touchdown in the final minutes.
"It's a very good win. It's nice to win when you don't play great and you just hang in there. They have very good returners and I think we did a good job of containing them," Brown said. "They have a very solid defense and I think we finally got them tired in the middle of the third quarter. We just chipped away. We were down 10 with a young team on the road and not playing well. It's one of the better wins we've had here. A lot of times it seems when we win, we play good."
Tech turned over the ball three times in its own end of the field, leading to three Hampton scores, and the homestanding Pirates looked to use those opportunities to stymie the Golden Eagles in the rematch from last year's 41-31 TTU victory in Cookeville.
Tech coughed up the ball at its own six-yard-line that led to an easy seven-yard touchdown for a 7-3 Hampton lead, and twice gave it up on returns. The first led to a 30-yard field goal for a 10-10 tie and the second to another touchdown to put the Pirates on top 20-10 in the third quarter.
Bill Dillard topped Tech with eight tackles, while Marty Jones added seven and Austin Tallant six.
The Golden Eagles come home to host Tennessee State next weekend in the team's Ohio Valley Conference opener. Kickoff in Tucker Stadium is at 7 p.m. CDT, and the 98.5 Kiss FM Tailgate Park opens at 4 p.m. The Eagle Walk through the park is at 4:45 p.m.
For tickets, call the Athletics Ticket Office in Eblen Center at 931-372-3940.
- Today's match-up is just the second among the Golden Eagles and Pirates in program history. Tech won the only meeting last season, 41-31, in Cookeville.
- This game marks the home opener for Hampton (0-2) and the Golden Eagle's (1-1) second straight road contest.
- Today's trip to Virginia is only the second in Tech football history. The last time the Golden Eagles were in the Old Dominion state was for a 2004 game at Virginia Military Institute (VMI).
- Today's game captains for Tech are No. 19 Cory McDonald, No. 40 Seth McDonald, No. 51 Jerry King, and No. 92 Chad Zinchini.
- The Golden Eagles win the toss and will receive.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES
- Cody Forbes returns the ball to the 24-yard line and we are underway.
- FUMBLE!!!!! Hampton fumbles the ball and Tech recovers on the Pirates' 46-yard line. Avery Rollins with the recovery.
- Darian Stone immediately gallops for a 21-yard gain and Tech is now in the red zone.
- Zach Sharp out to attempt a 23-yard field goal. IT'S GOOD!!!! Tech leads 3-0 with 10:32 to play in the first quarter.
- SACK!!! Tra'Darius Goff and Jimmy Laughlin get to the quarterback on third down and Hampton will punt the ball.
- Tech fumbles and the Pirates recover at their own six-yard line.
- Hampton into the endzone and the Pirates lead the Golden Eagles 7-3 with two minutes to play in the first quarter.
- At the end of the first quarter, Hampton leads the Tech, 7-3.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES
- The Golden Eagles really starting to move the ball on this drive, picking up three consecutive first downs. They are in the red zone again.
- Hampton calls its first timeout as the Golden Eagles pound their way to the Pirates' seven-yard line.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!! Stone with the quarterback-keeper and Tech takes the 10-7 lead with 13:12 remaining in the first half.
- Tech attempts a short range kick into no-man's land...and THEY RECOVER THE BALL!!!! The Golden Eagles take over on Hampton's 28-yard line.
- Zach Sharp out to attempt a 48-yard field goal. It's no good. Hampton takes over on its own 31 with 11:55 to play in the first half.
- Hampton will attempt a 31-yard field goal. It's good. The game is now tied, 10-10, with 6:27 to play in the first half.
- Tech fumbles the ball on the kick off and Hampton will take over on Tech's 21-yard line.
- The Tech defense holds and the Pirates will attempt a 39-yard field goal.
- It's good and Hampton takes the lead, 13-10, with 5:21 to play in the first half.
- Great punt by Chad Zinchini! He pins the Pirates down to their own 3-yard line with a 54-yard boom.
- SACK!!! Harrison Reid and Midoho Okpokowuruk take down Hampton quarterback Jaylian Williamson and the Pirates will have to punt.
- The Pirates take a knee and we will head to halftime with Hampton leading Tech 13-10.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES
- Hampton receives the ball and the second half is underway.
- HUGE pass break-up by Demario Donnell on third down. The Pirates will punt and Tech takes over on its own 13-yard line.
- Another huge series by the defense. They force a three-and-out and will punt again.
- Tech fumbles the fair-catch attempt and Hampton recovers on the Golden Eagles' 35-yard line with 11:17 to play in the third quarter.
- Hampton scores on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Williamson to Antwon Chisholm. They lead Tech 20-10 with 9:58 to go in the third quarter.
- MONSTER return by Ladarius Vanlier! He takes it back 80 yards to the Hampton 19-yard line.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!! Jared Davis (who has come in for an injured Darian Stone) scrambles in from one yard out and Tech now trails by just three, 20-17, with 8:13 to play in the third quarter.
- HUGE stop by the defense. Tech holds Hampton on fourth-down attempt and will take over on its own 29-yard line.
- SACK!!! Malcolm Mitchell takes down Williamson and forces Hampton into a punting situation with 2:42 to go in the third quarter.
- Big first-down run by Cody Forbes. He brings the Golden Eagles into the red zone for a chance to take the lead.
- At the end of the third quarter, the Pirates lead Tech, 20-17.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES
- Zach Sharp with a 35-yard field goal attempt.
- IT'S GOOD!!! Tech ties things up at 20-20 with 14:06 to play.
- FUMBLE!!!!! Tech with a short kick again and the Golden Eagles recover the fumble at the Pirates' 31-yard line!
- Tech with back-to-back first downs, orchestrated by Darian Stone, who has reentered the game.
- Sharp out there to attempt a 20-yard field.
- IT'S GOOD!!!! Tech takes the lead, 23-20, with 10:22 to play.
- Another HUGE defensive stand as the Golden Eagles hold Hampton on third-and-short and force a Pirate punt.
- HUGE reception by Cody Matthews! The play goes for 28 yards and a Golden Eagle first down.
- Tech has picked up four consecutive first downs and are threatening to score with just over five minutes left in the contest.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!!!! Darian Stone ignores the pressure and hits Cody Matthews with a 32-yard strike! The Golden Eagles lead 30-20 with 4:09 to play.
- Hampton scores a touchdown and they now trail Tech, 30-27, with 1:43 to play.
- The Pirates will attempt an onside kick.
- The attempt goes out of bounds and Tech will get the ball at the Hampton 43-yard line.
- First down rush by Stone to the 27, and the Pirates call their final timeout. Tech can lienup in the "Victory" formation and Stone will take a knee...and again...and one final time.....and that's the ball game. TOUGH WIN, but a WIN! Golden Eagles 30, Hampton 27.