By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
MARTIN, Tenn. – With the spring season in the books, it's almost like summer vacation for the Tennessee Tech football team. With just a couple of months to rest, relax and recuperate, the Golden Eagles will be right back at it in just a couple short months.
While Sunday's game wasn't the result the Golden Eagles wanted to end the 2020-21 campaign with, a 40-7 loss to UT Martin, there's still certainly plenty to hang their hats on as they prepare for the next season.
First, the Golden Eagles do possess the Sergeant York Trophy, winning the round-robin between the Ohio Valley Conference's Tennessee members. Tech tied UTM with a 2-1 mark in the series this season, but claim the league's tiebreaker as the team that has gone the longest without possessing the bronze bust of the World War I hero from Pall Mall.
Secondly, over the course of the season, the Golden Eagles have overcome adversity through injuries and illness and in the process building depth to make a run for the OVC title in 2021.
The start of the game looked promising as Dominic Howard blocked UT Martin's punt on the opening drive at the Skyhawk 31. Tech was able to collect seven yards on the series, sending Hayden Olsen out for the 41-yard field goal try, but UTM's Takeem Young was able to get a hand on the ball and deflect the kick.
The Skyhawks took advantage of the momentum, moving the ball down the field on nine plays and 76 yards, scoring as John Bachus flipped the ball to Andrew Henley, who fired down field to Peyton Logan for a 39-yard touchdown pass. Tyler Larco's PAT try failed, but the Skyhawks were on the board 6-0 with 8:54 remaining in the first quarter.
Bachus added another touchdown for the Skyhawks before the end of the period, completing a 50-yard strike to Colton Dowell for the score. The PAT was through this time around, ending the first stanza up 13-0.
In the first quarter alone, UTM outdrove Tech 162-29.
Tech's first drive of the second quarter saw Tech move the chains, but Jordan Brown had the ball knocked out of his hands by JaQuez Akins on the fresh set of downs, then D'Carrious Stephens recovered the loose ball on the Golden Eagle 42.
In four plays, the Skyhawks were in again as Zack Wallace rushed for a one-yard touchdown, following big pass completions to Dowell and Rodney Williams for a combined 35 yards. Larco's kick was good and the game went to the intermission with UTM up 20-0.
Tech was able to get to the Skyhawk 15 late in the second quarter, but the Golden Eagles turned the ball over on downs as a pass to a diving Brad Clark hit the ground in his hands and was ruled incomplete.
Young had more heroics for the UTM side, intercepting Miller at the UTM 45 and returning it all the way back to the Golden Eagle 19. On the first play of the resulting series, Bachus fired and found Rich Griglione for the touchdown.
Late in the third quarter, Tech was able to hold the Skyhawks on a 13-play, 71-yard drive, keeping them to just a 29-yard field goal from Larco. The kick was good, making it a 30-0 contest.
The Golden Eagles turned the ball over on downs with just five seconds remaining in the quarter at the Tech 34. On the first play, Kevin Butler streaked down the middle of the field and hauled in Bachus' pass for the touchdown as time expired. Larco's kick closed the third quarter, the Skyhawks up 37-0.
Larco then added a 36-yard field goal for his 10th point on the day at the 7:45 mark in the fourth quarter.
Tech got on the scoreboard with 55 seconds remaining in the contest as Quinton Cross hauled in a 22-yard strike from Miller as he was hit hard by the Skyhawk defense. Olsen's PAT was good.
Cross ended the day with eight catches for 101 yards on 12 targets, averaging 12.6 yards per catch. Miller was 21-for-44 passing for 211 yards with two interceptions. Miller also led Tech's rushing attack with six carries for 19 yards as Tech ended the day with 17 totes for 43 yards.
For Martin (3-4), Bachus ended the day with 265 yards passing and three touchdowns on a 22-for-31 day. Dowell had 105 yards and a score on six catches.