The Eastern Kentucky University Colonel football team played host to the Tennessee Tech University Golden Eagles (0-3) on Saturday.
The game was not only the first home game of the season, but it was also the Ohio Valley Conference opener for the Colonels.
Coming off a bye week following two tough FBS opponents to open the season, the Colonels were looking to improve their 0-2 record with a win against a FCS opponent.
On TTU’s first play from scrimmage, Andrew Goldsmith fumbled the ball and it was recovered by EKU’s Koby Grace which gave Eastern great field position to start their second drive of the game.
EKU’s offense could not improve on the great field position but Eastern’s Lucas Williams nailed a career long 51-yard field goal to give the Colonels the early 3-0 lead.
The Colonel’s followed the field goal with the first touchdown of the game after L.J. Scott broke loose for a career high 35-yard touchdown run.
EKU ended the first quarter up 10-0 on the Golden Eagles.
TTU committed their second fumble of the game early in the second quarter and EKU’s Grace recovered the ball for the second time.
Unfortunately, the Colonels were unable to capitalize on great field position when Williams missed a 25-yard field goal wide right.
TTU tried to get on the board late in the second half, but the Golden Eagles Quarterback Andre Sale was picked off by EKU’s Corey Glass.
EKU tried to score with minimal time left in the half, but after a crazy final play that included fumbles by Eastern’s Dan Paul and TTU’s Deontay Wilson, the Colonels could not expand on their lead and went into the locker room ahead 10-0.
Eastern opened the second half on defense and, after stopping the Golden Eagles on a 4th and 1, regained possession of the ball on their own 48-yard line.
Eastern was finally able to capitalize on the great field position with a 38-yard Tim Boyle touchdown pass to Ryan Markush making the score 17-0 in favor of the Colonels.
TTU followed Eastern’s scoring drive with one of their own, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown run by Yeedee Thaenrat that put the Golden Eagles on the scoreboard.
The 3rd quarter ended with Eastern still up 17-7.
Eastern started the fourth quarter with another touchdown drive that ended with Scott’s second touchdown of the night.
That score gave the Colonel’s a commanding 17 point lead at 24-7, but Tennessee Tech would not go down without a fight.
A couple of possessions later, after a pass interference penalty on EKU, TTU’s Sale threw a 57-yard touchdown pass to Dontez Byrd effectively closing EKU’s lead to just 10 points.
After another 3-and-out possession by Eastern’s offense, TTU marched downfield on a 12-play 77-yard drive that ended with another touchdown pass from Sale.
This time it was a 4-yard pass to Hunter Coleman that brought the Golden Eagles to within 3 points at 24-21.
TTU’s Haidar Zaidan attempted an onside kick, but EKU’s Glass recovered the kick with only 1:45 left on the game clock.
EKU could not run the game clock out which left TTU 1:23 on the clock to tie or win the game.
But TTU’s comeback was thwarted when EKU’s Luder Jean Louis sacked TTU’s Sale as time expired.
Eastern escaped with their first win of the season by a score of 24-21, and improved their record to 1-2 overall and 1-0 in conference play.
EKU Head Coach Mark Elder spoke postgame about his team’s performance, “I didn’t think we performed up to our capabilities. Down the stretch, we didn’t do a really good job. We were not as sharp as we needed to be on offense in the first half with several mistakes that we have to get cleaned up. If we want to be able to accomplish what we would like to accomplish and what we are capable of doing, then we are going to have to play better than what we did.”
Offensively, Boyle completed 21 out of 28 passes for 185 yards and had one touchdown throw.
Scott led the team in rushing with 54 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns.
Markush (4 catches for 57 yards and one touchdown), Paul (5 catches for 50 yards), and Neiko Creamer (4 catches for 49 yards) lead the receiving corps.
Defensively, Bascom led the team in tackles with 10 and also contributed with a forced fumble.
Grace had a great game with 7 tackles, one forced fumble, two fumble recoveries, and an interception that he returned for 39 yards.
On special teams, Keith Wrzuszczak totaled 9 punts for a combined 433 yards and added a career long 76-yard punt to his resume, while Williams went 1-2 on field goals on the night.
The Colonels will head to Cape Girardeau, MO. to face off against the winless Southeast Missouri State University Redhawks for their second OVC game on Saturday, September 30th at 7:00 p.m.