Golden Eagles rally in fourth, but fall to Kennesaw State

Golden Eagles rally in fourth, but fall to Kennesaw State

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

KENNESAW, Ga. – In the second half, the Tennessee Tech football team looked like a different team.

The first half saw costly turnovers in the red zone, too many big plays and some penalties that slowed things down a bit.

But in the second half – more specifically the fourth quarter – the Golden Eagles showed some promise, outscoring Kennesaw State 14-3 in the final two periods.

So while the score ended up 27-14 in favor of the Owls, Tech found a way to dig deep and put a scare into Kennesaw State.

"We learned a valuable lesson tonight," said Tech head coach Marcus Satterfield. "When you play an option football team and go from what you do every day on defense and start worrying about keys and this formation … I told the guys at halftime, 'If we get blown out, it's on me.' We eliminated that. We went out there and played like it was Tuesday in practice and we asked them to play as hard as they can and they did. We looked like a totally different defense."

The second half was when Tech finally showed just what it could do.

"They never stopped us," Satterfield said. "We stopped ourselves every time. We'd get past the 15 and cut the wrong way, make the wrong check – it was nuts. Until we can do that, we'll have these moral victories that the fans yell for because they came back and played hard for four quarters the way they're supposed to."

For the Golden Eagles (0-2), the two story lines were, without question, quarterback Andre Sale and the emergence of D.J. Wilkes.

Sale put together a strong performance, throwing for 297 yards and two touchdowns on 31-of-42 passing. The only blemishes on the night, however, were three interceptions – one that was on a missed route and another on a desperation throw late to the end zone.

"Andre's a tough kid," Satterfield said. "He did some knucklehead things that freshmen do, but, overall, he gave us a chance to try to win the game. He made some tough throws and the kid's playing really, really hard and that's half the battle. He's just got to take care of the ball, but he definitely got better tonight."

Wilkes caught the first two passes of his career, both for touchdowns, as he caught Sale's strikes to put the Golden Eagles on the board.

"Now he's got to go out there and play other stuff," Satterfield said. "We can't just put him in there and expect him to score touchdowns. He's getting better every single day. He's athletic, he's a difference-maker. We just have to keep bringing him along."

Dontez Byrd saw his century-yardage streak snapped last week against Western Illinois, but started a new one against KSU, catching 10 passes for 109 yards.

On the ground, Andrew Goldsmith led the way for the Golden Eagles, rushing for 57 yards on nine carries, while Yeedee Thaenrat rushed for 32 on seven totes before getting hobbled in the second half.

But it was on the ground where Kennesaw excelled. The Owls rolled up 309 yards on 45 carries, averaging 6.9 yards per try. Darnell Holland led the way with 129 yards on four carries, including an 84-yard touchdown breakaway. Trey Chivers had the other rushing score for the Owls, a 29-yard scamper.

In the closing moments of the first half, Justin Sumpter hauled in a 55-yard ball just over the defender's head, then scored on a three-yard toss from Chandler Burks for a 24-0 halftime lead.

The only points KSU had in the second half were off of the second field goal of the night for Justin Thompson, a 21-yard kick.

The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday as they travel to Muncie, Ind., to take on Ball State out of the Football Bowl Subdivision's Mid-American Conference. Kickoff is slated for 2 p.m. Central.

Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information