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CSN Inside the OVC: Tech Claims Sgt. York Trophy, Hunt Still On For OVC Crown

floated rightBy James D. Horne, CSN Inside the OVC Columnist

Tennessee Tech is the 2009 Sgt. York Trophy Series Champion and the Golden Eagles are plenty proud of the accomplishment.

Tech claimed the three-year-old trophy for the first time after it dispatched previous two-time winner Tennessee State 20-13 last Saturday. Tech went 3-0 in its Sgt. York games this season.

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The Sgt. York Trophy goes to the annual winner of the quadrangular season series among the four OVC institutions in Tennessee (Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin) and is the second traveling trophy involving more than two schools nationwide (the other is the Commander in Chief’s Trophy).

It’s named after Sgt. Alvin C. York, a native of Pall Mall, Tenn., and a soldier who was one of the most honored of World War I. He received the Congressional Medal of Honor after the war and returned to his home state to dedicate his life to improving education and facilitating educational opportunities for children in Tennessee.

“It’s such a thrill for us,” Tech coach Watson Brown said on Tuesday’s OVC coaches teleconference. “No. 1, we’re proud to represent the family, who are all from the upper Cumberland and then to win it with a 3-0 record and all three teams we beat were good teams. Austin Peay is such a good team, and I wouldn’t want to play them again or UT Martin and Tennessee State. We’ve been lucky enough to win and have had to do it in tight fourth quarters. I told the kids the thrill will be 50 years from now when they remember they were the first Tech team to win it. It’s going to be more special than knowing they were the first to do it.”

Tennessee State has cherished the two times the Tigers won the trophy, so much so the spot it made to display the trophy will be vacant for a year. TSU clearly understands how important the York Trophy victory was to Tech.

“After the game the announcer didn’t say Tech won the game, he made it clear that Tech had won The Sgt. York Trophy,” TSU coach James Webster said. “They were excited and they should be. I’m not sure if everyone knows what it means to win that trophy. If you don’t win the York, you can’t win the conference and to have a chance to win the conference, you have to win the York. You’ve got to be the best team in Tennessee to win it, and it’s a big deal to win it and a big deal to give it up. But Tech earned it. They have the right to have the trophy, and we want teams to make it a bigger deal. We had a nice table for the trophy, and now it’s going to sit empty for a while. It’s a nice deal to win it.”

WATCHING THE REST: OVC leader and No. 13 Eastern Illinois (7-2, 5-1 OVC) won’t play this week because of a bye.

It also means the first-place Panthers will remain the top team in the league no matter what happens this weekend.

But EIU won’t be resting on its laurels. No, the Panthers have work to do.

“We’re planning on trying to improve,” EIU coach Bob Spoo said. “There’s a lot we don’t do well right now, and we have a lot of things to work on. That’s going to be our focus this week. We’re going to try to improve our techniques and individually as players. Then we’ll put it all together and get ready for next week.”

With two games left, EIU knows it has its hands on the OVC title, but not a firm grip.

“I’ve been saying it since the first week that the league is better than it’s ever been from top to bottom, and you’ve got to be ready every week,” Spoo said. “We understand that and live with that. We still have two tough games ahead of us, before we can even think about a championship.”

OVC EXTRAS: This week’s games include two nonconference matchups with SEC foes, Tennessee Tech plays at Georgia and Eastern Kentucky is at Kentucky on Saturday. … Jacksonville State’s Ryan Perrilloux and Tech wideout Tim Benford were named the OVC’s Co-Offensive players of the Week. It’s Perrilloux’s fifth time to be honored as such, Benford’s first and the first time this season two players tied for the award … Tech safety Caleb Mitchell was named the Defensive Player of the Week and EIU kicker Austin Signor and punter Kevin Cook were named co-Specialist of the Week.

OVC STANDINGS

Team OVC Overall
GPI No. 16 Eastern Illinois 5-1 7-2
Eastern Kentucky 5-2 5-3
Tennessee Tech 4-2 5-3
Tennessee State 2-2 3-5
Austin Peay 2-3 3-5
UT Martin 2-3 3-5
Murray State 1-4 2-6
Southeast Missouri State 0-6 1-7
GPI T-No. 12 *Jacksonville State 3-1 5-3
*Ineligible for OVC title and playoffs due to APR penalties

LAST WEEK’S RESULTS

*@Eastern Kentucky 20, Southeast Missouri 6
*Eastern Illinois 16, @Murray State 10
*@Tennessee Tech 20, Tennessee State 13
*Jacksonville State 28, @Austin Peay 10
*Denotes OVC games

THIS WEEK IN THE OVC
Saturday’s Games

Tennessee Tech at Georgia, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN360)
Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN360)
*Austin Peay at Murray State, 1:00 p.m. (OVCSports.TV)
*GPI T-No. 12 Jacksonville State at Southeast Missouri, 1:00 p.m. (OVCSports.TV)
*UT Martin at Tennessee State, 5:00 p.m. (OVCSports.TV)

THE GAMES

Austin Peay Governors (3-5, 2-3 OVC) at Murray State Racers (2-6, 1-4 OVC) •Roy Stewart Stadium (16,800) • Murray, Ky.
THE BACKGROUND:
Series Record: …………………………………………. Murray State leads 29-13
Last Meeting: ……………………………….. Murray State won 32-12 (10/4/08)
Rick Christophel at Austin Peay: ………………………………….. 12-18 (3 yrs.)
Rick Christophel Overall: …………………………………………………………. same
Matt Griffin at Murray State: …………………………………………10-32 (4 yrs.)
Matt Griffin Overall: ……………………………………………………..20-56 (7 yrs.)
Austin Peay Last Week: ……………… L, 28-10 vs. Jacksonville State
Murray State Last Week: ………………….. L, 16-10 vs. Eastern Illinois
THE PRIMER: Austin Peay and Murray State will meet for the 43rd time AND BOTH are coming off losses to nationally ranked teams last week. The series, which dates back to 1953, as been controlled by Murray State, who has won eight of the last nine and 15 of the last 17 games overall.
THE PREDICTION: APSU 28, MSU 25

GPI T-No. 12 Jacksonville State Gamecocks (5-3, 3-1 OVC) at Southeast Missouri State Redhawks (1-7, 0-6 OVC) • Houck Stadium (10,000) • Cape Girardeau, Mo.
THE BACKGROUND:
Series Record: ……………………………………… Jacksonville State leads 8-5
Last Meeting: ……………………….. Jacksonville State won 38-17 (10/4/08)
Jack Crowe at Jacksonville State: …………………………….. 62-45 (10 yrs.)
Jack Crowe Overall: ………………………………………………… 76-75 (15 yrs.)
Tony Samuel at Southeast Missouri: …………………………….12-30 (4 yrs.)
Tony Samuel Overall: ……………………………………………….. 46-87 (11 yrs.)
Jacksonville State Last Week: ……………………….W, 28-10 at Austin Peay
Southeast Missouri Last Week: ……………… L, 20-6 at Eastern Kentucky
THE PRIMER: The two squads have played 13 times previously with Jax State holding an 8-5 advantage in the series. JSU won a season ago at home, but Southeast Missouri State claimed a 32-25 victory in the series in 2007.
THE PREDICTION: JSU 33, SEMO 17

UT Martin Skyhawks (3-5, 2-3 OVC) at Tennessee State Tigers (3-5, 2-2 OVC) • LP Field (67,500) • Nashville, Tenn.
THE BACKGROUND:
Series Record: ……………………………………… Tennessee State leads 13-5
Last Meeting: ………………… Tennessee State won 30-27 in OT (10/4/08)
Jason Simpson at UT Martin: ………………………………………..24-19 (4 yrs.)
Jason Simpson Overall: …………………………………………………………… same
James Webster at Tennessee State: …………………………….24-29 (5 yrs.)
James Webster Overall: ………………………………………………………….. same
UT Martin Last Week: …………………………………………………………………. Idle
Tennessee State Last Week: …………………. L, 20-13 at Tennessee Tech
THE PRIMER: The game is part of the Sgt. York Trophy series, which has already been clinched by Tennessee Tech this year. The two teams have played 18 previous times with TSU winning 30-27 in overtime in Martin last season. That win snapped a two-game winning streak in the series for the Skyhawks.
THE PREDICTION: TSU 27, UTM 20

Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles (5-3, 4-2 OVC) at Georgia Bulldogs (4-4, 3-3 SEC) • Sanford Stadium (92,746) • Athens, Ga.
THE BACKGROUND:
Series Record: …………………………………………………….. Georgia leads 1-0
Last Meeting: ……………………………………………. Georgia won 67-0 (1943)
Watson Brown at Tennessee Tech: …………………………….. 12-19 (3 yrs.)
Watson Brown Overall: ……………………………………… 106-170-1 (25 yrs.)
Mark Richt at Georgia: ………………………………………………… 86-26 (9 yrs.)
Mark Richt Overall: ………………………………………………………………….. same
Georgia Last Week: ………………………………………. L, 41-17 vs. #1 Florida
Tennessee Tech Last Week: ………………..W, 20-13 vs. Tennessee State
THE PRIMER: Tennessee Tech travels to Georgia to face the SEC power on Saturday for the first second in program history and first time since 1943. The game is the second against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent this season for the Golden Eagles, who played at Kansas State on Sept. 26. It marks the 23rd time Tech has played a FBS opponent; the Golden Eagles have never won one of those contests. It marks the second time in three years Tennessee Tech has played a SEC foe; the team matched up with Auburn in the 2007 season.
THE PREDICTION: Georgia 56, Tech 13

Eastern Kentucky Colonels (5-3, 5-2 OVC) at Kentucky Wildcats (4-4, 1-4 SEC) • Commonwealth Stadium (67,942) • Lexington, Ky.
THE BACKGROUND:
Series Record: ………………………………………………….. Kentucky leads 2-0
Last Meeting: ……………………………………… Kentucky won 50-10 (9/1/07)
Dean Hood at Eastern Kentucky: …………………………………… 13-7 (2 yrs.)
Dean Hood Overall: …………………………………………………………………. same
Rich Brooks at Kentucky: …………………………………………….36-45 (7 yrs.)
Rich Brooks Overall: ………………………………………….. 127-154-4 (25 yrs.)
Eastern Kentucky Last Week: …………….W, 20-6 vs. Southeast Missouri
Kentucky Last Week: …………………………… L, 31-24 vs. Mississippi State
THE PRIMER: Eastern Kentucky will play its second game of the season against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team when it makes the short drive up I-75 to battle Kentucky (EKU played Indiana earlier this season and nearly beat the Hoosiers). This marks the third meeting between the two teams who last played in 2007. Overall UK has outscored EKU 103-17 in the two previous meetings.
THE PREDICTION: Kentucky 38, EKU 20

MY PREDICTION RECORD

OVERALL: 37-12
LAST WEEK: 3-1