By Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information
CLARKSVILLE – The Ohio Valley Conference football race is done, but there's still pride on the line on Saturday as the Tennessee Tech football team heads to Clarksville to wrap up the 2021 season against Austin Peay.
The Governors (5-5, 3-2 OVC) probably have Saturday's contest circled as a revenge game after the Golden Eagles' spoiled head coach Scotty Walden's debut as APSU head coach.
Kickoff from Fortera Stadium is set for a 2 p.m. start. Roger Ealey and Dylan Vazzano will provide the broadcast on 98.5 KISS FM, while Barry Gresham and Patton Cook will have the call on ESPN+ (subscription required).
In the last meeting, the Golden Eagles overcame a 14-3 deficit early in the second half, outscoring the Govs 24-7 to close out the contest as David Gist ran for two touchdowns, Metrius Fleming hauled in a 13-yard pass from Bailey Fisher and Hayden Olsen hit a 32-yard field goal. Tech won 27-21.
That game, played on a cold and icy February afternoon in Cookeville, opened the 2020-21 campaign, the first of 18 games to be played in the 2021 calendar year. It's almost fitting that the 18th and final game of 2021 is slated against the Governors.
Tech (3-7, 1-4 OVC) will look to close out the campaign on a high note. UT Martin took a 42-3 victory over the Golden Eagles in Tech's 90th Homecoming game, rolling up 462 yards of offense, including 313 rushing yards on 29 carries, averaging 10.8 yards per rush – an uncharacteristic performance from a Tech rush defense that had ranked second in the OVC. Peyton Logan ran for 116 yards on seven carries, while Zak Wallace ran for 90 yards and two touchdowns, including a 50-yard scamper.
The Skyhawks passed for 149 yards on a 17-for-22 effort, led by 141 for Tulane transfer Keon Howard.
Tech is 33-21 all-time against the Governors, but has won two of the last five meetings. Since APSU rejoined the OVC as a scholarship program in 2007, Tech is 8-6. This will be the final meeting between the two as conference foes once again as Austin Peay has already announced its intentions to leave the conference after this academic year.
Ahmaad Tanner leads the Governors in rushing this season with 708 yards and nine touchdowns, posting an average of 70.8 yards per game. Draylen Ellis has been one of the top quarterbacks in the league, throwing for 2,281 yards and 15 touchdowns, averaging 253.4 yards through the air per outing. Baniko Harley, who caught a touchdown pass in February's meeting, leads the Govs with 800 yards on 48 catches with seven touchdowns.
As a team, the Governors are averaging 148.0 rushing yards and 266.5 passing yards a game, while allowing an average of 148.4 rushing and 204.8 passing yards.
Defensively, Koby Perry has 74 stops, Jack McDonald has 69 tackles, Kordell Jackson has seven tackles-for-loss with four sacks for 32 yards, Terrell Allen has five sacks for 37 yards and Johnathan Edwards has a team-best seven interceptions.
The Governors have won three of their last four games, tipping Murray State 47-6, Eastern Illinois 42-26 and Tennessee State 36-7. The lone loss was a 17-16 defeat at UT Martin.
The Golden Eagles, as a team, are averaging 140.5 rushing yards and 150.4 passing yards for 290.9 total offense per game. On defense, Tech is allowing an average of 143.7 rushing yards and 210.9 passing yards for 354.6 total offense per game.
David Gist has 829 rushing yards on the year with eight touchdowns. If Gist were able to rush for 171 yards on Saturday, he'd become the first Tech 1,000-yard rusher since Dontey Gay in the 2011 campaign. Willie Miller leads the Tech passers with 648 yards and five touchdown passes, while Quinton Cross has 527 yards on 40 catches with two touchdowns.
Josh Reliford leads the Tech defense with 65 total tackles, while Seth Carlisle has 61. Devin Squires leads the team in tackles-for-loss with 8.5 for 38 yards, while Kail Dava has eight for 28 yards. Squires and A.J. Hall Jr. each have a team-best 2.5 sacks.
Photo | Thomas Corhern, TTU Sports Information