By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
OXFORD, Ohio – Tennessee Tech head coach Dewayne Alexander took his players into the locker room Saturday afternoon following the Golden Eagles' 48-17 loss to FBS school Miami (Ohio) and told them to keep their heads up.
"On Monday, everything on this game is going in the trash," he said. "This is a very good football team. We have so much left to play for."
And there is truth in his words.
The good news following the loss to Miami was that the Tech football team left Ohio with no additional injuries, a nice paycheck to help the program and no progress was lost toward its quest for the 2019 Ohio Valley Conference championship or any other such goals.
The game, as it was, was just another in a string of meetings against Football Bowl Subdivision schools as the Golden Eagles fall to 2-35 all-time against their bigger Division I brothers. Tech (1-1) won't see another one again until next season as it travels to Minnesota out of the Big Ten.
At the end of the day, there is no reason for the Golden Eagle faithful to fret as there's still a long way to go in the season and so much to play for.
Miami (Ohio), improving to 1-1 following last week's 38-14 loss to No. 20 Iowa, used its speed and size to create mismatches as the RedHawks led statistically.
"The truth of the matter is we can't turn the ball over three times, much less let them result in touchdowns," Alexander said. "I don't care who you play. The kicking game, we were a little concerned with Haidar (Zaidan) being a little banged up with a quad tweaked. The good news is he's going to be back.
"The field position early on in the game was not very good. We played on our end of the field almost the entire first half and couldn't get anything going offensively."
For much of the contest, redshirt freshman Devin Parker's 34-yard field goal was the only scoring for the Golden Eagles, coming with a minute left in the opening quarter. Parker, a transfer to the Golden Eagles who joined the team two weeks ago after transferring from Louisiana-Monroe, is the nephew of Tech Hall of Fame kicker Ryan Weeks. The field goal made it a 10-3 contest after one period.
But by that point, the damage was done. RedHawk true freshman quarterback Brett Gabbert, the younger brother of NFL quarterback Blaine Gabbert, rushed for two touchdowns and passed for 152 yards on a 10-of-17 effort. Davion Johnson also rushed for two scored among his nine carries, then Bart Baratti took an interception off of Bailey Fisher back to the house for a touchdown.
In all, Tech had three turnovers, in contrast to the zero posted last week against Samford.
Following Ward's touchdown pass, MU added another score on a one-yard run by Zach Kahn with just over six minutes remaining. The Golden Eagles responded as freshman Metrius Fleming had a 50-yard kickoff return, setting up a quick drive capped by a 30-yard touchdown connection from Ward to Hunter Coleman.
"I'm very pleased with how this team responded in the second half," Alexander said. "Our goal was to win the second half. We didn't win the first half, so we at least wanted to win the second half, and we did (outscoring Miami 14-7 in the second half)."
Offensively, the Golden Eagles put together 282 yards to MU's 349. David Gist rushed for 34 yards on seven carries to pace Tech, while Fisher ended the game with 87 yards on 9-of-16 passing and Ward had 83 on 7-of-9.
"The good thing is this team keeps fighting," Alexander said. "We just have to go back to work. I'm telling you – everyone should come out next Saturday and watch these Golden Eagles play. These guys are fun to watch, fun to coach. They have some grit to them, they're fighters and we're going to keep playing. We can't wait to get back out on that practice field."
The Golden Eagles will return to action next week as they return home to take on Division II Virginia-Wise (1-0 after a 40-22 win Saturday against Chowan College) for Family Weekend. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.
Tickets for Saturday's contest is on sale by calling (931) 372-3940, visiting the Hooper Eblen Center ticket office or by visiting TTUsports.com.