COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – The No. 23 Eastern Kentucky University Colonels blitzed host Tennessee Tech for 22 straight points in the fourth quarter to earn a 42-28 win Saturday night at Tucker Stadium. With the win, EKU improves to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in OVC action.
The Golden Eagles were looking for their first OVC win and now fall to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in league play.
Tennessee Tech scored 11 seconds into the fourth quarter to take a 28-20 lead, but from that point on Eastern Kentucky controlled the game.
The Colonels responded with a 14-play drive to tally the tying touchdown. Senior Tyrone Goard’s 24-yard catch and fellow senior Matt Denham’s 17-yard run helped the drive along. Junior Deshaun Sands finally found the end zone on a 4th-and-1 play. EKU proceeded to pick up the two-point conversion when Denham scooted around the right side of the line.
Eastern’s defense came away with a turnover three plays later. Facing a 3rd-and-11, senior Justin Bell blitzed off the left side and forced an errant throw from TTU quarterback Tre Lamb. Senior Cejay Ceniza was in perfect position to haul in the interception and returned the ball to the Golden Eagle 27-yard line. Junior wide receiver Ike Ariguzo then made a juggling 28-yard touchdown catch off a perfect pass from senior T.J. Pryor to give the Colonels the lead with 7:01 left, 35-28.
On Tennessee Tech’s next possession, it took just one play for the Eastern Kentucky defense to force another turnover. Junior linebacker Ichiro Vance tipped a TTU pass attempt which landed perfectly in senior Brooklyn Fox’s lap. Fox returned the pick to the home team’s 34-yard line to give the Colonels another golden opportunity for a score.
Senior wide receiver Cameron Bailey cashed in on Tennessee Tech’s mistake when Pryor found him wide open in the end zone for a 38-yard scoring strike. That play put the game away and made the score, 42-28.
Tennessee Tech led throughout much of the first three quarters, mainly on the big pass play. Lamb hit Adam Urbano with a 77-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game to give Tech a quick 7-0 lead. Midway through the second quarter, Da’Rick Rogers made a highlight-reel 40-yard touchdown grab to put the Golden Eagles ahead at halftime, 21-17.
Eastern Kentucky struggled to find some consistency on offense through the first three quarters before converting 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) third downs in the final period and racking up 163 yards of offense on 26 plays. Meanwhile, Tech managed just seven yards on nine plays for the entire quarter.
Pryor completed 23-of-31 passes for 296 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions in the victory. Bailey added two touchdown catches while Denham recorded 104 yards rushing and one score.
Junior defensive lineman Shawn Shupperd and senior linebacker Kevin Hamlin each posted a team-high seven tackles. The Colonel defense held the Golden Eagles to 15 yards rushing for the game on 22 carries.
Lamb threw four touchdown passes for Tennessee Tech, including three to wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers.
Eastern Kentucky returns home next weekend to face Eastern Illinois in a nationally-televised game on FOX College Sports. Kick-off on Saturday, Oct. 27 is set for noon.
--Wide receiver Tyrone Goard moved into EKU’s top-10 career receiving list with a three-yard catch right before halftime. He now has 1,529 career receiving yards.
--Running back Matt Denham moved into EKU’s top-10 career rushing list with an 11-yard run on the final play of the first half. Denham now has 2,827 career rushing yards. Denham has also reached 100 yards rushing in 14 of the previous 16 games.
--Tennessee Tech’s Adam Urbano’s 77-yard touchdown catch on the second offensive play of the game was the biggest play allowed by the Eastern defense this year.
--Eastern was +3 in turnover margin versus the Golden Eagles and did not commit a turnover for the fourth time this season. The Colonels stand at +11 in turnover margin in 2012.
--Brooklyn Fox notched his seventh career interception while Cejay Ceniza tallied his third career pick.