By Mike Lehman, TTU Sports Information Coordinator
and Rob Schabert, TTU Assistant Athletic Director for Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Tech head coach Watson Brown said it was resilience that led to the Golden Eagles' 38-37 win Saturday night over Indiana State in Tucker Stadium.
That, plus three blocked kicks, three interceptions and a brilliant relief appearance off the bench by redshirt freshman quarterback Jared Davis in the second half. The rookie from Tullahoma, Tenn., directed Tech on an 11-play, 77-yard touchdown drive in the final five minutes of the contest. His two-yard TD pass to senior Zack Ziegler with 1:11 remaining proved the difference in a game that the visitors dominated after halftime.
Davis was 11-for-12 for 97 yards passing in the face of incredible pressure from the ISU defense.
Indiana State erased a 24-12 deficit at the intermission, outscoring the Golden Eagles 22-7 in the third quarter and putting up 18 unanswered points to climb on top, 37-31 early in the fourth quarter.
They rode their All-American tailback, Shakir Bell, who rushed for 201 yards and a touchdown and also caught a team-high six passes for 68 yards and another score. Bell also surpassed 4,000 career rushing yards in the contest. ISU quarterback Mike Perish passed for 288 yards and two touchdowns as the Sycamores rolled up 554 yards of offense.
Senior defensive tackle Jordan Johnson blocked two kicks early in the game, one leading to an 87-yard return by James Huguely for a touchdown and a 10-6 Tech lead. Johnson had knocked down a PAT try on Indiana State's first touchdown of the night that left the visitor's with a 6-0 lead.
Senior Bud Golden bulled into the end zone twice on one-yard touchdown runs, his second putting Tech on top, 24-12, at halftime. Golden suffered what appeared to be a serious leg injury with 11 minutes remaining in the game, and was taken off the field on a stretcher. He was playing in his first game of the year, after working through an eligibility issue. He gained his eligibility just this week and was in the starting lineup.
His injury inspired his teammates, according to Ziegler.
"That's probably why we're all a little sad right now, even though we won the game," Ziegler said.
Davis replaced starting quarterback Darian Stone, who was knocked out of the game in the third quarter on a tackle that jarred his helmet pretty hard. Davis took Tech to a score on his second possession, scoring from five yards out for a 31-19 TTU lead with 8:01 to go in the third.
Bell and Perish seemed to take over from there. Bell scored on a six-yard TD run to cap a 69-yard scoring drive, then Perish hit Sam Levingston for a 12-yard touchdown to put the Sycamores up, 32-31. His PAT pass to A.J. Johnson was good for a 34-31 lead.
Bell broke off a 69-yard run that looked to send ISU toward another touchdown, but the Golden Eagle defense came up with a huge stop at the Tech six-yard-line, as Lamar Moore and Bill Dillard caught Bell for a four-yard loss. That helped keep ISU out of the end zone, and they settled for a 24-yard field goal for a 37-31 lead.
The Sycamores moved from their own 17, following a 54-yard punt by Chad Zinchini, all the way to the Tech 23. From there, Malcolm Mitchell got his hand on a 40-yard field goal try that fell short, and kept the Golden Eagles within six points, setting the stage for Davis' TD march.
Taking over at the TTU 23, Davis hit sophomore Krys Cates for an 18-yard pickup, then connected with sophomore Eric Belew for a 19-yard gain. Facing fourth-and-two, Davis hit Belew for five yards and a first down. He overcame a sack, then got a pass interference call that put the ball at the two. From there, Davis found Ziegler on the left sideline and the senior from Greenbrier powered over the goal line to tie the score. Zach Sharp's fifth PAT of the night, and his 77th consecutive successful kick, was the winning point.
Perish got the Sycamores all the way to the Tech 35, but faced a fourth-and three and his 43rd pass of the night sailed through his receivers hands where Tevin McDermott grabbed Tech's third interception of the contest to preserve the win.
Marty Jones led the Tech defense with a career-high 16 tackles, while James Huguely and Tradarius Goff added 12 stops each. Tech's defense faced 88 plays.
The Sycamore defense, which held Tech to 264 total yards -- including only 74 rushing yards on 43 tries -- was led by Kendall Walker's 14 tackles and 10 stops by Connor Underwood. He also had four tackles-for-loss and three sacks.
Tech returns to Ohio Valley Conference play next week with a visit to Murray State on Oct. 5.
- Tonight's contest marks the first-ever between Tennessee Tech and Indiana State.
- The game tonight is also Coach to Cure (Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy) night.
- Indiana State is coming off a bye week, but the week prior they defeated Quincy, 70-7.
- The contest marks the third time this season that the Golden Eagles will go up against a first-year head coach. Both Cumberland and Wisconsin also had first-year guys at the helm this season.
- The final non-conference game of the 2013 season for Tech pits an Ohio Valley Conference school against a Missouri Valley Conference program, a Golden Eagle-first since 1996.
- Indiana State senior running back Shakir Bell is among those players on the 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List and has been each of his three previous season, finishing as high as second.
- Bell owns 3,907 career rushing yards, roughly 1,435 more than Tech's current running backs and two quarterbacks.
- The Golden Eagles will don white helmets, purple jerseys, and white pants for the contest tonight.
- Tonight's game captains are #40 Seth McDonald, #51 Jerry King, #74 Wesley Sherrill, and #95 Lamar Moore.
- Tech has won the toss and chosen to receive.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES
- Tech receives the ball and we are under way.
- Indiana State with the interception and they take over on the Golden Eagle 44-yard line.
- SACK!!!! Jimmy Laughlin gathers in Sycamore quarter back Mike Perish for the six-yard loss.
- Indiana State's Shakir Bell gathers in a 31-yard screen pass from Perish and the Sycamore's take a 6-0 lead with 11:33 to go. PAT pending.
- BLOCKED!!!! Jordan Johnson blocks the extra point to keep the score 6-0.
- It's Johnson's first career block and the 20th blocked kick in head coach Watson Brown's tenure.
- A slew of penalties has the Golden Eagles across the 50-yard line with 10:07 to play in the first quarter.
- Zinchini out to punt. He boots it 46 yards for a touchback.
- Big first-down run by Darian Stone. Tech has the ball at the ISU 40-yard line.
- Zach Sharp on to attempt a 47-yard field goal.
- IT'S GOOD!!!!! Tech cuts the lead to 6-3 with 3:25 to go in the first quarter.
- Tech's defense holds strong in the redzone and the Sycamores will send out Eric Heidorn for a 20-yard field goal attempt.
- BLOCKED!!!!!! AND A GOLDEN EAGLE TOUCHDOWN!!!!! Jordan Johnson blocks his second kick of the night and James Huguely picks it up and takes it to the house for an 87-yard return!
- Tech takes a 10-6 lead with four seconds to go in the first quarter!
- It marks the first blocked field goal returned for a touchdown by the Golden Eagles in 10 years!
- At the end of the first quarter, Tech leads 10-6.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES
- Midoho Okpokowuruk bats a pass by Perish and nearly comes away with an interception. It is now third-and-six.
- INTERCEPTION!!!! Perish throws one behind his receiver, it's tipped, and Bill Dillard nabs his second pick in two weeks. Tech takes over on the Indiana State 42-yard line.
- BIG reception by Krys Cates! He hauls in a 34-yard catch from Stone and the Golden Eagles are within the five-yard line.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!! Bud Golden pounds his way into the endzone and the Golden Eagles take a 17-6 lead with 13:14 to go in the first half!
- Nice tackle by Patrick Prewitt. He takes down the ball carrier for a loss of three yards.
- After moving the ball well, Indiana State will have to settle for a 31-yard field goal attempt.
- It's good and the Tech lead is cut to 17-9 with 10:13 to go in the first half.
- Zinchini is out for the second time tonight. He CRUSHES one 58 yards and the Sycamores take over on their own 35-yard line with 8:39 to go in the first half.
- SACK!!! Austin Tallant takes down Perish for a seven-yard loss.
- The Sycamores are forced to attempt a 42-yard field goal. It's good and Tech's lead is down to 17-12 with 4:56 to go in the first half.
- The Golden Eagles are putting together a nice little drive here. They are now up to the ISU 25-yard line after starting from their own 20.
- First down Tech after Bud Golden pounds his way forward into the redzone.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!! Golden squeezes through the defensive line and puts Tech up 24-12 with 14 second to go in the first half.
- Golden matches his Tech career rushing TD mark with his second of the game. It is also his first career mulit-rushing touchdown game of his career.
- Your score at halftime: Tennessee Tech 24, Indiana State 12.
- Redshirt junior saftey Marty Jones has 10 tackles already through the first half. His career-high is 14.
- Jordan Johnson's two blocked kicks in the first half brings the Golden Eagle total under coach Watson Brown to 21.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES
- Indiana State receives to the start the second half. They bring it to the 49-yard line.
- Perish sneaks one into the endzone and the Sycamores cut the Tech lead to 24-19 with 13:13 to go in the third quarter.
- Jared Davis is on at quarterback for an injured Darian Stone.
- Zinchini boots another big punt, this one for 52 yards to the Sycamores' 26-yard line.
- INTERCEPTION!!!! Jimmy Laughlin picks one out of the air and takes it to the ISU 37-yard line!
- HUGE first-down conversion by the Golden Eagles! Jared Davis connects with Zack Ziegler.
- BIG catch by Steve Wilson! He hauls in a 17-yard pass from Davis and is down to the five-yard line.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!! Jared Davis with the quarterback-keeper. He fools everyone on the play-action fake and Tech goes up 31-19 with 8:01 to go in the third quarter.
- Back-and-forth we go. Indiana State into the endzone as Bell romps for his second score of the game. Tech still leads 31-26 with 5:16 to go in the third quarter.
- Bell surpassed 4,000 career rushing yards on the last drive.
- Zinchini to punt out of his own endzone. He boots it 42 yards to the Tech 49-yard line.
- Touchdown Indiana State. Perish connects with Sampson Levingston to give the Sycamores a 34-31 lead after a successful two-point conversion.
- The kickoff by ISU goes out-of-bounds and will be placed at the 35-yard line after the penalty.
- At the end of the third quarter, Indiana State leads Tech, 34-31.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES
- Zinchini comes on for the punt and pins the Sycamores at the seven-yard line after a 40-yard boot.
- Marty Jones collects his 14th tackle of the game, tying his career-high.
- Tech's defense holds a threat in the redzone and ISU is on for the 24-yard field goal attempt. It's good and the Sycamores are now up 37-31 with 12:31 to play.
- Bud Golden carted off the field, after a clean hit, with an apparent leg injury.
- Zinchini out for the punt and drills one 54 yards to the Sycamores' 17-yard line.
- Zinchini averaging 48.7 yards per kick tonight.
- Jimmy Laughlin all over the field tonight. He bats down a pass by Perish to force second-and-10.
- Marty Jones with yet another tackle and he has a new career-mark of 15 stops.
- Laughlin with another big bat of the ball! He forces another second-and-10.
- The Golden Eagles force fourth down and Indiana State is out for a 40-yard field goal attempt.
- BLOCKED!!!!! Malcom Mitchell gets just enough of the ball and the kick is no good!
- The block is the third of the game by the Golden Eagles and 22nd of Watson Brown's tenure.
- Two big passing plays by Jared Davis has Tech to the ISU 40-yard line with 5:15 to go.
- HUGE first down conversion on fourth down! Eric Belew hauls in a short throw by Davis and Tech's drive stays alive!
- Belew with another reception and makes is second-and-two inside the redzone!
- Stephen Bush with a nifty cutback and he gathers a first down at the ISU 12-yard line. Just 1:58 to go in the game!
- Golden Eagles facing third-and-six at the seven-yard line with 1:18 to play.
- Pass interference called on Indiana State and Tech will have first down on the two-yard line with 1:14 to play.
- TOUCHDOWN!!!!! Davis connects with Zack Ziegler for the two-yard score to tie things up.
- THE EXTRA POINT IS GOOD!!!! Tech takes the 38-37 lead with 1:11 to play in the game!
- Indiana State will start the drive at its own 26-yard line.
- The Sycamores use two big passing plays to move to the Tech 42-yard line with 37 seconds to play.
- Tech forces fourth down and three yards to go at the 35-yard line with 26 seconds left!
- Indiana State will go for it.
- INTERCEPTION!!!!!! Tevin McDermott, who came in for starting cornerback James Huguely three plays ago, catches the tipped ball and ices the game for the Golden Eagles!!!!!!!!
- TECH WINS 38-37 IN AN ABSOLUTE THRILLING FINISH!!!!!!