COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Jared Davis threw for two touchdowns, Darian Stone caught a scoring pass and rushed for another TD, and the Tennessee Tech defense held visiting Kentucky Christian scoreless until the final minute as the Golden Eagles (1-0) opened the 2014 season with a 33-7 victory over the Knights (0-1) Thursday night in front of 10,597 fans in Tucker Stadium.
Davis was 18-for-25 for 168 yards and two scores but also threw two interceptions as the Golden Eagles had three turnovers. He hit Stone on a seven-yard touchdown to cap an opening drive for a 7-0 lead. Davis' second TD pass was a 35-yard connection to Cody Matthews, who finished with six catches for 74 yards.
After the first touchdown pass, Willie Davis broke through the middle on a fourth-and-one to go untouched for a 23-yard touchdown on his first carry as a Golden Eagle after transferring from USF.
Tech tacked on a safety with two seconds left in the first half when Jordan Patrick brought down Elvis Trujillo. The Knights were backed up inside the one-yard line following a 50-yard punt by Jonathan King.
Walk-on redshirt freshman John Arnold nailed a 45-yard field goal in the third quarter, the first attempt of his career, pushing Tech's lead to 19-0.
Stone raced 10 yards for his second touchdown with 1:01 to play in the third quarter for a 26-0 lead.
Tech's final score made it 33-0 when Matthews grabbed a pass along the left sideline, then evaded tacklers and raced 35 yards to paydirt.
Kentucky Christian, an NAIA school, mounted a nine-play, 48-yard scoring drive over the final five minutes with Justin Crager powering over from the four for the touchdown.
Tech managed 344 yards of offense while limiting KCU to 203 total yards.
KCU quarterback Graham Johnston was the game's top rusher with 50 yards on 10 carries. He threw for 76 yards on a 12-for-28 effort. Stone topped Tech with 42 rushing yards on 10 carries. Ladarius Vanlier posted a career-best 241 all-purpose yards.
Knight linebacker Andrew Stewart had 20 tackles and Denzel Cameron added 10 tackles and forced a fumble. Emmett Keyes had both interceptions for KSU.
Tra'Darius Goff led the Tech defense with nine tackles including 1.5 tackles-for-loss.
The Golden Eagles play at Indiana State next Saturday (Sept. 6), while Kentucky Christian visits Bethel.
* Tennessee Tech comes into the game on a two-game winning streak, claiming victories over Southeast Missouri and Austin Peay in the final two games of the 2013 season. Kentucky Christian enters on a four-game losing streak, dropping the final four contests last season.
* Tennessee Tech has won all seven home openers in Tucker Stadium in Watson Brown's seven seasons as head coach.
* The game with Kentucky Christian is Tech's only game of the year against other than an NCAA Division I FCS opponent. The Golden Eagles face 11 straight FCS foes after tonight.
* Tonight's game is the first against an NCAA Division I opponent for the Knights.
* Ten different Golden Eagles listed on the two-deep chart will be making their Tech debuts tonight.
* Senior receiver Cody Matthews needs 23 yards to reach 1,000 career receiving yards.
* With 252 career tackles, Austin Tallant is tops on the squad in that categories, and needs 56 stops (probably not tonight) to catch Hall of Fame linebacker Chad Evitts for 10th in career stops by a Golden Eagle. Marty Jones is close behind with 243, while Tra'Darius Goff has 221 career tackles.
* Today's game captains: Marty Jones, Darian Stone, Austin Tallant, and Randall Reeves.
FIRST QUARTER NOTES:
* Ladarius Vanlier kicks off the 2014 season with a 41-yard kickoff return.
* Darian Stone catches the first touchdown of the 2014 season and of the QW era. Quarterback Jared Davis goes a perfect 5-for-5 on the drive with 34 yards and the score.
* Willie Davis takes his first career carry as a Golden Eagle 23 yards for a touchdown.
* At the end of the first quarter, Tennessee Tech leads Kentucky Christian, 14-0.
SECOND QUARTER NOTES:
* Kentucky Christian tries for its first points of the game, a 41-yard field goal attempt. It's blocked by Kevin Robinson-White.
* Jared Davis' pass in intercepted by Emmett Keyes and he returns it 32 yards to the home 18-yard line.
* Kentucky Christian attempting a 37-yard field goal. It's no good. Tech takes over.
* Emmett Keyes collects his second interception of the game. Grabbing one at KCU's 49-yard line.
* After a 50-yard Jonathan King punt, Tech grabs a safety thanks to Jordan Patrick, Jay Rudwall, and Marty Jones.
* At the end of the first half, Tennessee Tech leads Kentucky Christian, 16-0.
THIRD QUARTER NOTES:
* Darian Stone scores his second touchdown of the game, this one on a 10-yard rush up the middle.
* Tech leads at the end of the third quarter, 26-0.
FOURTH QUARTER NOTES:
* Three QWs caught passes in the game.
* Cody Matthews nabs a 35-yard touchdown pass from Jared Davis, dodging several tackles. He is now over 1,000 yards receiving for his career.