Turnovers, penalties squash Tech rally at EKU

Turnovers, penalties squash Tech rally at EKU

By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information

RICHMOND, Ky. – With the number of turnovers the Tennessee Tech football team committed on Saturday night, it would have been hard for any team to overcome that adversity.

Still the Golden Eagles found a way, rallying in the fourth quarter, and even had a chance to win it.

But false start penalties proved costly, running crucial time off the clock and Eastern Kentucky ruined any chance of a Tech comeback win, sacking Andre Sale for the final of the contest and sealing a 24-21 defeat.

"It was self-inflicted pain," said Tech head coach Marcus Satterfield. "You can't overcome that. You will be 0-a hundred million if we did that every night on offense. Defensively, that was one of the most elite performances I have ever seen in my life and will ever witness. We manhandled that team except for one play the entire night. They held their own in the red zone."

The Golden Eagles fall to 0-4 and drop their first Ohio Valley Conference contest of the season, while finishing 0-3 on the road trip to Kennesaw State, Ball State and Eastern Kentucky.

Still, Tech had to contend with five turnovers in the contest, two interceptions and three lost fumbles. Two of the turnovers started Colonel scoring drives, while another one led to a missed field goal.

EKU led 17-0 before the Golden Eagles reached the scoreboard with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter as Yeedee Thaenrat went in from five yards out.

Following a L.J. Scott touchdown on a six-play, 42-yard drive to push the advantage back out to 24-7 and provide the Colonels' final point of the contest with Lucas Williams' PAT, it was all Tennessee Tech.

With 7:54 remaining in the contest, Andre Sale dropped a bomb to Dontez Byrd for 57 yards, allowing the senior receiver to look back behind him and scamper into the end zone untouched for the score.

Tech's defense came up with another quick stop, giving the ball back to the Golden Eagles. This time, Sale put together a 12-play, 77-yard drive that ended as Hunter Coleman hauled in a four-yarder.

On the kickoff, Tech attempted the onside kick with 1:45 left, and the defense once again came up huge, stopping the Colonels short and giving Tech one last try with 1:23 remaining. But two false start penalties handcuffed the drive allowing the Colonels to run out time.

"The offense is playing hard," Satterfield said. "But it's not going to matter if you kill yourself at the start. You have to play with concentration on the details. This can't be the story of your life – you come out here and play hard, but you lost."

Statistically, the Golden Eagles dominated the Colonels on offense, collecting 416 yards to EKU's 288 and averaged 5.5 yards gained to the Colonels' 4.9. But the turnovers were game breakers.

Sale ended the game with a career-high 304 yards on 26-for-40 passing to lead Tech, while Byrd caught nine passes for 169 yards. Thaenrat led the Golden Eagles on the ground with 19 carries for 57 yards. Defensively, Elliott Normand and Aderick Moore each had nine tackles.

"I wouldn't say it was a great night for him," Satterfield said. "He played hard, but he can't turn the ball over or take sacks in two-minute situations. He's going to get coached up hard this week. He's resilient, and he'll be better than ever. Offensively, we're not patting anyone on the back – that was an absolute travesty that happened tonight."

And the Tech defense did everything it could to give the Golden Eagles a chance to win.

"The defense would have given a middle school team a chance to win this game," Satterfield said. "If Monterey's middle school team comes down here with our defense, they win this game."

Nick Madonia tried his hardest to help Tech win the field position battle, averaging 46.8 yards per punt, but EKU's Keith Wrzuszczak averaged 48.1 yards, including a 76-yarder.

Colonel quarterback Tim Doyle was efficient, completing 21 of his 28 tries for 185 yards and one touchdown pass. Scott ran for two touchdowns among his 10 carries for 54 yards, while Dan Paul caught five passes for 50 yards. Ryan Markush caught the touchdown pass among his four catches for 57 yards.

The Golden Eagles return to action on Saturday night as they return home to Tucker Stadium to face reigning OVC champion Jacksonville State. Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Photo by Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information