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TTU trying to stay lucky
If you ask Tennessee Tech football coach Watson Brown, the Golden Eagles were lucky last week against Southeast Missouri.
This week, Tech (3-1, 2-0 Ohio Valley Conference) will have to see if its luck will hold out another week as the Golden Eagles travel to UT Martin (2-1, 1-1) on Saturday night.
“You just keep surviving,” Brown said. “That’s all you can do. You just move on to the next one, and the next one is another really good team. Martin is really good and I’ve said it since day one – this is going to be the most exciting conference race since I’ve been here.”
“I still don’t see a gimme anywhere. It’s really coming to be true. The team that can stay the most consistent and the most healthy – and that’s a big word because everyone’s playing so much more physical – so health will become a big part of it down the stretch.”
“You just get ready for the next one. You go from the pot to the frying pan. We go from the defending conference champions in SEMO to Martin. You just set them up and go to it.”
And the Skyhawks aren’t a slouch team – UTM saw Jacksonville State top them in the final minutes, but the Skyhawks routed OVC preseason No. 2 Murray State last week 48-26.
“It’s not just Martin,” Brown said. “The whole league is legitimized. Eastern Kentucky losing at Austin Peay, EIU having a great shot at beating Jacksonville State – it just didn’t hardly happen. This is every week. We played phenomenally well at Eastern Illinois. We didn’t have a turnover, had just three penalties, they had four turnovers – that was the reason that score was a little higher. You’re crazy if you try to take that week before and make it the whole season. Murray goes from bombing TSU, then loses at Martin. That’s just the way it’s going to be. You can’t put too much into each week. It’s honestly who played the best that night. It’s going to be that way for us six more times.”
With the two top rushing teams and the top two rush defenders squaring off, it should be an interesting matchup between the two teams.
Last week, senior Dontey Gay became the first player in Tech history to record 100 rushing yards and 100 receiving yards in a game. The two fumbles aside, Gay had one of the best games in school history as he rushed for two touchdowns and 146 yards on 22 carries, in addition to his 101 yards on seven catches.
“Dontey’s playing well,” Brown said. “We’re being able to do what we need to do by what people do to us. If they’re telling us to run the ball, we’ve been able to do that decent. When they’re telling us to throw the ball, we’ve been able to do that decent. So far, we’ve been a real good balanced bunch, and I think it’s going to take that with the good defenses. We will have to have balance again and Dontey is a big part of that balance. Especially after we lost our starting tailback (Adam Urbano, who was injured at Iowa). He got hurt on the first play of the game after gaining 18 yards and he hasn’t been back. Dontey’s just been a phenomenal game for us.”
And on the other side of the ball, Tevis Barksdale and Jason McNair have been lighting it up on the ground as well. For another week in a row, the Tech defense is going to get tested.
“UT Martin’s got balance, too,” Brown said. “They can run, they can throw. They’ve got players at both places. They’ve got people they can throw it to. Their quarterback (Derek Carr) is a very good player and they have a very good running game. You always have to be able to stop the run. Saturday night (against SEMO), we didn’t do that. It’s a totally different style. SEMO was the option and we didn’t handle that style very well. This is different, but Martin’s always moved the ball well on us. We have our hands full. We understand that. The good thing is, we’ve been in two of these already. This is just the third one now. Martin has no weaknesses. They’re very solid in all phases of the game. What does that say? You have to go play really well to have a chance to win.”
Special Olympics Players of the Game
After Tech’s two home contests this season, four players have been recognized as the First National Bank of Tennessee-Special Olympics Players of the Game. The winners were announced earlier this week. For their efforts against Maryville College, Dwight Evans and Tim Benford were selected, while Tre Lamb and Jordan Johnson were the winners following this past weekend’s victory over Southeast Missouri.
A donation to the Special Olympics was made in their honor.