By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- As the 2017 campaign winds into the home stretch, the Tennessee Tech football team looks to finish strong with a run at the Sergeant York Trophy, starting with this week's Ohio Valley Conference contest against Tennessee State.
The Golden Eagles have won the last two meetings with the Tigers and will try to make it three straight wins for the first time since 2000-2002.
Kickoff on Saturday from Tucker Stadium is scheduled for 1:34 p.m.
Roger Ealey and Dylan Vazzano will provide the call on 98.5 KISS FM, while Tim Scruggs and Sam Brooks will provide broadcast duties on WCTE, simulcast on the OVC Digital Network.
Saturday's game is also Military and Public Safety Appreciation Day and Youth Football Day. Military and Public Safety personnel receive free entry to Saturday's game, while youth football players in their jerseys will receive a free ticket.
Here are Tech head coach Marcus Satterfield's thoughts on the contest from this week's press conference:
SETTING THE SCENE
Saturday's game marks the 31st meeting between Tennessee Tech and Tennessee State, with the two teams locking horns for the first time in 1984 ... The Tigers lead the series 18-12, but the Golden Eagles have won the last two meetings ... TSU won five straight from 2003 to 2008 and six straight in the first six meetings, while Tech had a five-game winning streak from 1992 to 1996 ... In OVC play alone, Tech is 12-16 against the Tigers ... Saturday's game also marks the Golden Eagles' first game in the Sergeant York Trophy series.
SCOUTING THE TIGERS
Tennessee State comes into the game with a 4-3 record, winning its first three (Georgia State, Jackson State and Florida A&M) before losing three of their last four (a lone win against Eastern Kentucky with losses to UT Martin, Eastern Illinois and Austin Peay) ... Florida transfer Treon Harris has thrown for 729 yards and two touchdowns, while Michael Hughes has thrown for 433 yards and three scores ... Patrick Smith has caught 27 passes for 336 yards and two touchdowns, while Steven Newbold has caught 19 for 283 yards and two touchdowns ... Seth Rowland has rushed for 339 yards and two touchdowns on 72 carries, while Harris has rushed for 318 and three touchdowns on 54 carries ... Chris Collins leads TSU with 65 tackles, 6.5 TFLs, two sacks, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.
BREAKING THE STREAK?
The 0-7 start for the Golden Eagles is the first time Tech has started a campaign with seven straight losses since going 0-10 in 1986 and 0-11 in 1984. Those are also the only two seasons in Tech's prior 95 seasons of football to go winless.
SERGEANT YORK TROPHY UPDATE
Austin Peay currently has a 2-0 lead on the trophy chase. Tech is playing in its first game in the series today. A loss against the Governors next week in the annual Homecoming game will send the trophy back to Clarksville for the first time since the round-robin was established in 2007. If the Golden Eagles can win all three games, Tech will claim the trophy for the first time since 2009. Tech tied for the trophy in 2011 and 2016.
While the Golden Eagles are moving the ball -- 133 first downs to their opponents' 122 -- Tech is just having a hard time getting across the goal line. In seven games this season, the Golden Eagles are getting outscored 209-95, including 54-14 in the first, 45-10 in the second, 61-26 in the third and 49-45 in the fourth.
THE GOLD STANDARD
Andrew Goldsmith leads Tech in rushing with 395 yards and one touchdown on 74 carries. He averages 5.3 yards per carry and 56.4 yards per game.
BYRD THE WORD
With Adam Browner taking snaps at quarterback in place on Andre Sale at Southeast Missouri two weeks ago, Dontez Byrd still put up decent numbers and has caught 51 passes for 718 yards through the first seven games, averaging 14.1 yards per catch and 102.6 yards per game. Byrd is on pace for a 1,128-yard season, possibly surpassing his record 933 yards and also on pace for a potential-record 80 catches. With five games remaining, Byrd needs 215 yards to tie his record, an average of 53.75 yards per game.
Elliott Normand, Aderick Moore, Deontay Wilson, Clay Davis, Chris McElderry and Deven Sullivan, Tim Collins and Josh Cunningham have created a pretty solid defensive unit with the group adding up for 340 of the team's total 510 tackles with three interceptions, 2.5 sacks and a fumble recovery.
MADONIA BACK ON TRACK
Despite a rough night against Jacksonville State, kicker Nick Madonia is rebounding, hitting four of his last six field goals and is perfect on PATs with a 11-for-11 mark. Madonia is 1-1 from 20-29, 4-5 from 30-39, 0-4 from 40-49 and 1-1 from 50-plus. Madonia leads the team in scoring with 29 of the team's 95 points.
CONTROL THE TURNOVERS
Tech has had a hard time taking the ball away, with five interceptions and three fumbles to their credit (Opponents have intercepted the ball 12 times and recovered seven fumbles). Of the 209 points allowed by Tech, 62 have come off of turnovers.
CONTROL THE SACKS
The Tech quarterbacks have been sacked 21 times for 163 yards this season, while the Golden Eagle defense has sacked the QB three times for 11 yards. Offensively, it is an improvement on last season, allowing 28 for 190 at this same point last season. Defensively, Tech sacked the opponent 10 times for 54 yards last year at this time.
Following Saturday's game at Tucker Stadium, the Golden Eagles are home next week for Homecoming against Austin Peay. Tech then hits the road for the last time on Nov. 11 at Murray State.