EIU Rallies To Beat Tennessee Tech


Published on November 5 2012 6:38 am
Last Updated on November 5 2012 6:38 am
Written by Millie Lange

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. – Eastern Illinois rallied from a 10-0 first quarter deficit to win 31-24 at Tennessee Tech to remain in first place in the Ohio Valley Conference.  EIU improved to 6-3, 5-1 in the OVC.  TTU lost its seventh straight game falling to 2-7, 0-6 in the OVC.

Back-up quarterback Darian Stone drove the Golden Eagles the length of the field on the opening drive to put TTU up 7-0 as Doug Page scored form 1-yard out with 9:18 to play in the first.  Stone rushed for 100 yards on the day as the Panthers faced their first true running quarterback of the season.

On the Panthers next drive the Panthers were short on a 4th down play just past midfield.  TTU drove for a Zach Sharp 32-yard field goal with 1:39 left in the opening quarter.

Jimmy Garoppolo drove EIU down to the inside the five yard line on the next series as EIU was again short on 4th down.  Following a defensive stand, Garoppolo had his first of two long touchdown passes on the day hitting Chavar Watkins for 61 yards.  EIU trailed 10-7 at the half.

Garoppolo was 27-of-41 for 376 yards and three touchdowns in the win including opening the game completing 15 of his first 18 passes.  Watkins hauled in seven passes for a career high 140 yards.

“It’s funny that we have come to expect great things from Jimmy and watching the game unfold on the field it appeared he didn’t have the numbers he put up,” said head coach Dino Babers following the win.  “He did a great job of moving our offense and making adjustments to get us the win.”

One of the adjustments he made gave the Panthers their first lead of the game as Garoppolo scrambled to avoid four TTU tacklers and hit Keiondre Gober for a two-yard score on EIU’s opening drive of the second half.  Cameron Berra tacked on a 19-yard field goal to give EIU the 17-10 lead with 8:03 left in the third quarter.

Tennessee Tech tied the score at 17-17 as Stone found Da’Rick Rogers for a 14-yard strike.  Stone was 22-of-43 for 153 yards.  Rogers was limited to 5 catches for 49 yards.

EIU answered quickly as Garoppolo connected with Chris Wright for 73-yards with 4:21 left in the third quarter.  Wright had 102 yards on four catches.

The Panthers added what proved to be the deciding touchdown on a Taylor Duncan run up the middle early in the fourth quarter.  Page scored the final Golden Eagles touchdown with 2:27 left before Erik Lora recovered the onside kick.

Lora caught seven passes in the game to become the 17th player in FCS history to reach 100 catches in a season.  He moved past Roy Banks for the EIU single season receiving yards record.

EIU’s defense was led by Jourdan Wickliffe with 13 tackles and one interception.  Robert Haynes had 12 tackles.

EIU returns to action next week hosting Southeast Missouri at 11 a.m. next Saturday at O’Brien Field.  The game will be televised on FOX College Sports.  A win by the Panthers would clinch at least a share of the OVC regular season title.