Title hopes still burn bright despite one-point Homecoming loss

Title hopes still burn bright despite one-point Homecoming loss

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee Tech rallied from a 14-point halftime deficit but a missed extra point along with missed opportunities to convert Murray State turnovers cost the Golden Eagles in a 38-37 Homecoming loss at Tucker Stadium Saturday.

Desite the one-point loss, Tech's hopes of winning the Ohio Valley Conference championship remain bright as the Golden Eagles prepare to visit league-leading Eastern Kentucky next Saturday. The Colonels ralied to defeat Jackonville State Saturday, setting the stage for the title showdown.

If Tech wins its final two games (at EKU and home against Austin Peay, Nov. 19), the Golden Eagles would win the crown via the OVC tie-breaker.

The Golden Eagles put together a 13-play, 87-yard scoring drive that was capped on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Tre Lamb to Tim Benford with 2:05 left in the game, but freshman kicker Zach Sharp's extra-point attempt hit the upright and bounced out.

Tech's ensuing onside kick attempt went out of bounds, giving Murray State possession. With no time outs remaining, the Golden Eagles could not stop the clock and the Racers downed the ball three times to run out the clock.

With the loss, Tech slips to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Ohio Valley Conference. Murray State improves to 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the OVC.

It was a record-setting day for the Golden Eagles despite the loss as wide receiver Tim Benford became the school’s all-time leading receiver with 2,952 yards, surpassing Larry Shipp. Benford also tied Shipp’s record for most career touchdown catches with 27.

Trailing 31-17 at halftime, the Golden Eagles put together two long touchdown drives in the third quarter to tie the game at 31 with 1:36 left in the period.

On the first scoring drive, Tech gained its yardage almost exclusively on the ground, getting an 18-yard carry from Zack Ziegler and a one-yard touchdown carry from Dontey Gay with 9:37 left in the quarter.

After forcing a Murray State punt that the Racers downed at the TTU two-yard-line, the Golden Eagles launched an eight-play, 98-yard drive that resulted in a game-tying four-yard touchdown run from Gay.

Adam Urbano played a key role in the drive, coming up with a 38-yard carry on the first play to get the Golden Eagles out of the shadow of their own end zone, then catching a screen pass from Tre Lamb and taking it 24 yards to the Murray State four-yard line.

The Racers responded, however, putting together a 14-play, 82-yard scoring drive of their own that resulted in a one-yard Casey Brockman touchdown dive.

After Tech’s next drive stalled, Richmond Tooley came up with what could have been a game-saving play, diving to intercept a Brockman pass at the Murray State 43-yard line. Tech couldn’t move the ball once again as Lamb was stopped on a fourth-down quarterback keeper, but the Golden Eagle defense forced a punt, giving the offense another shot with 6:49 left on the clock.

This time, TTU marched 87 yards on 13 plays getting two big completions from Lamb, one a 16-yarder to Ziegler and another a 29-yard gainer to Benford before the 13-yard scoring strike with 2:05 left.

Murray State committed two turnovers in the game, neither of which the Golden Eagles could turn into points. Ja-Vonta Trotter muffed a punt return late in the second quarter, but the Golden Eagles went three-and-out. Tech also couldn’t take advantage of Tooley’s interception.

Lamb finished the game 14-for-29 for 197 yards and two touchdowns while Urbano led Tech’s ground game, carrying nine times for 119 yards, an average of 13.2 yards per carry. Dontey Gay also carried 17 times for 89 yards. Benford was the Golden Eagles’ leading receiver, catching six passes for 116 yards and a score.

Brockman went 31-for-43 for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Mike Harris carried 16 times for 56 yards to lead the Racer ground game, while Duane Brady had 11 carries and picked up 52 yards. Harris was also Murray State’s top receiver, catching five passes for 73 yards.

Tennessee Tech took a quick 10-0 lead out of the gate on a 21-yard field goal from Zach Sharp and an eight-yard touchdown pass from Lamb to Charlie Stevens. The Racers came back, however, scoring on a 24-yard touchdown pass from Brockman to Nevar Griffin, then taking a 14-10 lead on a four-yard Mike Harris touchdown run.

Tech regained the advantage when Dontey Gay ran in a touchdown from five yards out to make the score 17-14, but from there Murray State scored on three consecutive possessions to take a 31-14 lead into the break.

The Golden Eagles travel to Eastern Kentucky next week for a 12 noon CST kickoff in Richmond.

Pregame Notes
*Much is at stake in today's Homecoming game as Tech looks to stay on top of the Ohio Valley Conference. At 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the league, the Golden Eagles are in a three-way tie for first place with Jacksonville State and Eastern Kentucky and are ranked No. 15 in the nation in the FCS Coaches poll and No. 20 in the Sports Network/Fathead.com poll.
*Tech holds a 41-34 edge in the all-time series against Murray State. Tech has won four of the last six games, including a 45-14 decision the last time they met in Tucker Stadium. Murray State earned a 44-13 win last year in Murray.
*Tech is wearing throwback uniforms for Homecoming. The Golden Eagles are decked out in purple tops with white lettering, white pants and white helmets. Unlike the current uniforms, today's unis do not have stripes on the shoulders. The helmets are also plain white with no stripes. Murray State is wearing white tops with blue lettering, gold pants and gold helmets.
*Beautiful weather conditions are on tap for today's game. Temperatures should hover in the mid-60s throughout the contest with sunny skies overhead.
*If he catches a touchdown pass today, Tim Benford can tie the all-time career record at Tech currently held by Larry Shipp. Benford has 26 career TD catches while Shipp has 27.
*Benford can also break the career receiving yardage record at TTU. He currently has 2,836 and needs 114 to reach Larry Shipp's mark of 2,950.
*Captains for Tennessee Tech are Corey Watson, Travis Adkins, Dontey Gay and Scott Schweitzer.
*Captains for Murray State are Dexter Barnett, Qua Huzzie, Sam Small and Dexter Durrante.
*Tech has won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Murray State will receive the opening kickoff.

First Quarter
*Murray State will start its drive at its own 17 yard line.
*Tech defensive back Will Johnson injured on the kickoff, helped off the field. MSU first and 10 from the 17.
*Three incomplete passes and Murray State goes three-and-out on its first possession. 4th and 10 from the 17.
*Kienan Cullen punt sails out of bounds at the Tech 48-yard line, where TTU will take over first and 10.
*Tre Lamb completes pass to Tim Benford down the left sideline to the MSU 34-yard line. An 18-yard completion and a TTU first down.
*Bud Golden starts at running back for TTU in place of Dontey Gay and gets the first carry. Gay is now in the game.
*TTU wide receiver Demetrous Garrett is not playing after suffering an injury last week. Starting in his place is freshman Cody Matthews. The start is the first of Matthews' career.
*Tre Lamb picks up a third-and-1 conversion on the quarterback sneak. First and 10 Tech at the 24 yard line.
*Another Tech first down on a 3-yard carry by Dontey Gay up the middle. Ball at the MSU 11.
*Lamb stopped on third-and-6 quarterback keeper attempt. Tech faces 4th and 2 from the 4-yard line. Field goal team comes on the field.
*Zach Sharp splits the uprights, giving Tech a 3-0 lead with 11:07 left in the quarter.
*Murray State will start its drive at its own 19 yard line.
*Jamere Hogue with a tackle for loss on second down, forcing a four-yard loss on the run attempt. 3rd and 7 Murray State.
*Casey Brockman pass complete to Dexter Durrante, but the play comes up short of the first down on the tackle by Howard Griffin and Corey Watson. Fourth and 2 from the 27.
*Cullen's punt rolls out of bounds at the Tech 33 yard line. First down Golden Eagles with 8:59 left in the quarter.
*Tre Lamb connects with Tim Benford on a long pass over the middle to the Murray State 27 yard line. A 44-yard completion and a TTU first down.
*Benford now needs just 52 receiving yards to break Larry Shipp's all-time career TTU record.
*Murray State commits pass interference on a third-and-7 pass attempt from Lamb to Benford.  First down Tech at the MSU 9-yard line.
*Lamb hits Charlie Stevens in the back of the end zone for an eight-yard touchdown pass with 6:03 remaining in the quarter. Sharp boots the extra point through and Tech leads 10-0.
*Tech's scoring was seven plays, 67 yards, 2:56. The touchdown was the third of the season for Stevens, a senior.
*Murray State begins its drive at its own 29-yard line.
*Brockman completes a third-and-9 pass to Arthur Brackett for a 16-yard gain and a first down at MSU's 46 yard line.
*Mike Harris carries up the middle for a three-yard gain on third and 2, giving Murray State a first down at the TTU 43 yard line.
*Brockman keeps the ball on a quarterback draw, picking up an eight yard gain to the 27 yard line and another MSU first down.
*Brockman delivers a third-and-7 touchdown pass to Nevar Griffin over the middle. Touchdown Racers and the extra point is good. Tech leads 10-7 with 2:25 left in the first quarter.
*Murray State kicker Kienan Cullen recovers his own onside kick attempt, giving Murray State first down at its own 41 yard line.
*First down Racers on a long screen pass from Brockman to Mike Harris. 19-yard gain and a first down at the TTU 34 yard line.
*Another first down for Murray State on a 13-yard pass down the sideline from Brockman to Walter Powell. Ball at 14-yard line.
*First quarter comes to a close with Tech holding a 10-7 lead. Murray State has the ball 2nd and 9 at the TTU 13-yard line.
*Tech has 101 first-half yards compared to 78 for Murray State.

Second quarter
*Brockman can't pick up first down on third-down quarterback sneak, bringing up 4th and 1 at the 4 yard line.
*Touchdown Murray State on a direct snap to Mike Harris, who runs up the middle for a four-yard gain. Cullen boots the extra point through to give the Racers a 14-10 lead with 14:00 remaining.
*Scoring drive nine plays, 59 yards, 3:23. Brockman has now completed 10 of 13 passes for 105 yards.
*Adam Urbano explodes through a hole for a Tech first down at the TTU 35-yard line. Seven yard run and a first down for the Golden Eagles.
*Urbano slips past a tackler and breaks free all the way to the Murray State 5-yard line. A big 60-yard carry and a first-and-goal for Tech. The run is the second-longest of the season for Tech.
*Dontey Gay carries five yards for a Golden Eagle touchdown! Sharp boots the extra point to give TTU a 17-14 lead with 12:58 left in the half.
*Scoring drive was 4 plays, 80 yards in 1:02. Urbano has three carries for 70 yards.
*The touchdown was the 11th for Dontey Gay this season. It is the third-most in a season in Tech history. Gay is chasing Michael Penix, who scored 14 in 1995.
*First and 10 for Murray State at its own 28-yard line.
*Tech's Caleb Mitchell breaks up long pass attempt from Brockman down the middle on first down.
*Brockman buys himself some time and delivers a first-down pass to Ja-Vonta Trotter for a 10-yard gain and a first down at the 41-yard line. The pass was a third-down conversion.
*Mike Harris breaks a tackle and picks up another Racer first down on a pass from Brockman at the TTU 48-yard line.
*Racers convert 3rd and 4 on a short pass over the middle from Brockman to Griffin. Ball at TTU 35 yard line.
*Big 20-yard run by Duane Brady on first down, putting Murray State at the Tech 15-yard line.
*Seven-yard touchdown pass from Brockman to Walter Powell on 3rd and 2. Brockman rolled out and found a diving Powell just across the goal line. Cullen's extra point is good, giving the Racers a 21-17 lead with 9:59 remaining in the half.
*MSU went 12 plays, 72 yards in 2:53.
*Both teams have combined for six scoring drives, the longest of which has been 3:29.
*Murray State has 210 yards of total offense while Tech has 181.
*Tech will start its drive at its own 30 yard line.
*Lamb completes nine-yard pass to Benford, setting up 4th and 1 at the 39-yard line.
*Tech sends out offense but is flagged for delay of game, making it fourth and six at the 34.
*Murray State's Ja-Vonta Trotter muffs the punt return, fumble recovered by Corey Watson and Tech takes over at the 21-yard line first and 10. Beautiful high punt from Tech's Nick Campbell.
*Third and 8 pass attempt from Lamb to Benford broken up in the end zone. 4th and 8 for Tech at the Murray State 20-yard line.
*Sharp's field goal attempt goes wide left, MSU takes over at its own 20 yard line with 7:17 left in the half.
*Tech can't take advantage of the turnover.
*Mike Harris breaks free on a 3rd-and-4 shovel pass from Brockman, carrying all the way to the TTU 33-yard line. 41-yard gain for Harris and a MSU first down.
*Tech defensive lineman Lamar Moore helped off the field.
*Racers convert third and six on pass from Brockman to Trotter over the middle. First down at the TTU 21 yard line.
*Golden Eagles need a stop as Racers face 3rd and 4 at the 15.
*Howard Griffin and Jamere Hogue combine to tackle Mike Harris for a one-yard loss on third down forcing 4th and 5.
*Cullen converts a 33-yard field goal to give Murray State a 24-17 lead with 3:22 left in the half.
*10-play, 64 yard drive, 3:55 for the Racers
*The field goal by Cullen is the 53rd of his career, breaking the Ohio Valley Conference career record.
*Total offense: Murray: 274, Tech: 191
*Tech takes over at the MSU 18 yard line with 3:17 left to play in the half.
*Lamb sacked by Murray State's Tyler Evans at the 5-yard line, setting up 3rd and 24.
*Lamb pass from the back of the end zone intercepted by Murray State's Darius Buck at the TTU 33-yard line. First and 10 with 2:14 left.
*Brockman sacked on 3rd and 11 by Jamere Hogue. Big play for the Golden Eagle defense! 4th and 14 from the 36 yard line as the clock winds under a minute. Timeout Racers with 55 seconds left in the half.
*Big stop needed as Murray State prepares to go for the conversion. Tech will attempt to get the ball back before halftime with three timeouts remaining.
*Brockman delivers 24-yard pass over the middle to Hannibal Beauford. First down Murray State at its own 12 yard line.
*Harris tackled behind the line of scrimmage by Tommie McBride. Loss of two to set up 3rd down and 4 from the 6-yard-line.
*26 seconds remaining in the half. Tech needs a big play from the defense to go into halftime down just a touchdown.
*Brockman completes floater over the middle to Arthur Brackett in the back of the end zone. Touchdown Murray State with 21 seconds remaining in the half. Cullen's extra point is good, giving the Racers a 31-17 lead.
*MSU kick goes out of bounds, giving Tech first and 10 at the 40-yard line. 21 seconds remaining and the Golden Eagles have three timeouts remaining.
*Lamb sacked by Kevin Robinson and Murray State heads into halftime with a 31-17 lead.
*At the break, Murray State has 307 yards of offense while Tech has 171 yards.
*Lamb is 6-for-13 with 90 yards, a touchdown and an interception in the first half, while Adam Urbano has carried three times for 70 yards. Tim Benford has four catches for 74 yards.
*Brockman has completed 22 of 31 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns for Murray State. Duane Brady has eight carries for 37 yards and Mike Harris has caught five catches for 73 yards.

Third quarter
*Tech will start a drive at its own 26 yard line to open the second half.
*Tre Lamb makes a nice move on the quarterback keeper for a Tech first down at the 41 yard line. 11-yard gain on the play.
*Another first down for Lamb on the keeper after a nine-yard gain by Dontey Gay up the middle. Ball at Murray State 45.
*Urbano picks up another TTU first down after another nine-yard carry by Gay as Tech continues to move the ball on the ground. First and 10 at the 29 yard line.
*Zack Ziegler breaks free down the sideline on an option pitch from Tre Lamb. Eighteen-yard gain for Ziegler and a first down at the MSU 12-yard line.
*Urbano spins his way to the one-yard line, converting a 3rd down and 2. First and goal for the Golden Eagles.
*Gay carries one yard for a Tech touchdown right out of the second-half gate! Sharp's PAT is good and Murray State's lead is cut to 31-24 with 9:37 left in the quarter.
*13 plays, 79 yards, 5:17 scoring drive.
*Touchdown is Gay's 12th of the season, ranks as the third-most in school history.
*Lamb is now 7-for-14 for 95 yards while Urbano has carried six times for 83 yards and Gay has 10 carries for 49 yards.
*Jake McIntosh delivers a big hit on the Murray State returner. Racers take over first and 10 at their own 28 yard line.
*Brockman brought down by Dwight Evans on the quarterback keeper attempt on 3rd and 4. Fouth and 1 at the 37 yard line for the Racers.
*Brockman converts the first down on 4th and 1 on a quarterback sneak. Ball at MSU's own 37.
*Brockman breaks several tacklers on the keeper on his way down the left sideline for a 19-yard first down carry. Ball at the Tech 45 yard line.
*Brockman sacked on 3rd and 9, fumble forced, but recovered by Brockman. Sack by Lamar Moore back at the MSU 48 yard line. Fourth and 19.
*Racer punt downed at the TTU 2-yard line. Golden Eagles take over.
*Urbano breaks free on an off-tackle run, gets all the way to the TTU 40 yard line. Big 38-yard run to bring the Golden Eagles out of the shadow of their own end zone.
*Urbano now has seven carries for 121 yards, his first 100-yard game at TTU.
*Tech hammering away on the ground as Gay carries 10 yards to the Murray State 41 for a first down.
*It's Gay again, going for a 13-yard gain on a misdirection play on first down, giving Tech another first down at the 28 yard line.
*Lamb hits Urbano on a screen pass and Urbano takes it all the way to the 4-yard line. It's a 24-yard pickup that gives Tech first and goal!
*Gay bulldozes his way up the middle for a Tech touchdown! Sharp PAT ties the game at 31 with 1:36 left in the quarter.
*Scoring drive: 8 plays, 98 yards, 3:50
*Gay has three touchdowns on the day and 13 on the season, tying him for second-most in school history. He needs just one more to tie for first place.
*Murray State will start its drive at its own 18-yard line.
*Brockman runs for a first down on 3rd and 4, gets to the MSU 35-yard line.
*End of the third quarter. Game is tied 31-31 with Murray State holding the ball first-and-10 at their own 35 yard line.
*Tech is outgaining Murray State 353-344 in total offensive yards after rallying from a 14-point halftime deficit.

Fourth quarter
*Eleven-yard pass from Brockman to Trotter goes for a first down to the MSU 46 yard line.
*Harris carries up the middle for a MSU first down on 3rd and 1. Ball at the TTU 40 yard line.
*Duane Brady busts a big carry up the middle to convert a 3rd and 2. 13-yrd run to the TTU 19 yard line.
*Thirteen-yard completion from Brockman to Pat Robertson all the way to the TTU two-yard line. First and goal MSU.
*Brockman carries one-yard for the MSU touchdown. Cullen adds the extra point to put the Racers ahead 38-31 with 11:57 remaining in the game.
*Scoring drive: 14 plays, 82 yards, 4:32.
*Brockman is now 30-for-40 with 276 yards. Duane Brady is MSU's leading rusher with 11 carries for 52 yards.
*Tech's drive begins at its own 34, but holding penalty pushes ball back to 24.
*Lamb finds Doug Page, who makes a diving catch to convert 3rd and 8. First down TTU at its own 35 yard line.
*Incomplete pass on 3rd and 8, Golden Eagles facing 4th and 8 from own 37 yard line with 9:49 left on the clock.
*MSU takes over after punt at its own 26-yard line.
*Richmond Tooley comes up with huge interception of Brockman pass at the Murray State 43-yard line! Golden Eagles are in business, taking over first and 10 with 9:32 left to play.
*3rd and 7 pass incomplete, Tech facing 4th and 7 at the MSU 40-yard line with 8:44 on the clock.
*Lamb stopped by Darrell Davis short of the first down at the 36-yard line. Racers take over first and 10 at their own 36 with 8:34 left.
*Mike Harris busts through the line for a first-down carry to the MSU 49 yard line.
*Golden Eagle defense busts up Murray State screen pass attempt on third down, six-yard loss on the play brings up 4th and 12 for the Racers.
*Tech will begin its drive at its own 13-yard line with 6:49 left on the clock.
*Golden Eagles convert 2nd and 15 on pass from Lamb to Ziegler for a 15-yard gain. First and down TTU at the 24 yard line.
*Personal foul penalty pushes Tech back to its own 16 yard line, 2nd and 22.
*Pass interference called on Murray State on Lamb attempt to Benford. Ball at TTU 27, first and 10.
*Big third-and-10 conversion on pass from Lamb to Benford down the sideline. 29-yard completion gives Tech first and 10 at the Murray State 44 with 4:41 left in the game.
*Gay carries up the middle after a seven-yard Ziegler run, first down Golden Eagles at the 34 yard line with 3:58 left to play.
*Lamb carries to the Murray State 16 yard line on the quarterback keeper. Gain of 12 and a TTU first down with 2:54 left.
*Lamb delivers 16-yard touchdown strike over the middle to Tim Benford. Touchdown Tech! Extra point hits upright and bounces back, Murray State holds a 38-37 lead with 2:05 left in the game.
*Benford's touchdown catch gives him the all-time career receiving yardage record at Tech and ties him for the all-time receiving touchdowns record. Both were previously held by Larry Shipp.
*Tech's onside kick attempt goes out of bounds. Murray State takes over at Tech 42 yard line with 2:03 left. Golden Eagles have no timeouts remaining.
*Racers have taken two knees as the clock winds down...
*Clock expires as Murray State takes a 38-37 victory.