COOKEVILLE – Broc Loveless rushed five yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, completing a 13-play, 75-yard drive, but two big plays in the second quarter by Ladarious Vanlier broke open the game and Tennessee Tech cruised to a 63-7 victory over Cumberland here Thursday night at Tucker Stadium.
The Bulldogs (0-1), under first-game head coach Donnie Suber, trailed 14-0 early in the second quarter before Vanlier changed the game completely. The sophomore broke through the right side for a 52-yard touchdown run early in the period after a CU punt.
On the ensuing possession, the diminutive speedster picked up a bouncing punt near his own goal line, went right toward the sideline, then back left through a gaping hole. Punter Tyler Emmetts of Mt. Juliet had a chance to make a tackle just over midfield, but was unable to pull down Vanlier, who set a Tech school-record for longest punt return, going 93 yards.
Mt. Juliet's Michael Nwokoji rushed 16 times for 31 yards for the Bulldogs, while Mario Hill carried seven times for 37 yards and Loveless ran it six times for 34 yards and the score. The redshirt junior led the scoring drive for CU, rushing 11 yards to convert one third down and 22 yards for another. Hill also got a first down with a fourth-down rush before Loveless’ five-yard scamper over the left side with just over five minutes to play.
Starting quarterback Reed Gurchiek of Mt. Juliet was 7-of-10 for 34 yards passing but was intercepted twice, including a tipped pass in the third quarter. He was also sacked three times, as CU struggled to move the ball for most of the game.
The Golden Eagles gained 505 total yards in the game, including 323 on the ground, led by 69 yards on eight carries from Cody Forbes. Tech quarterback Darian Stone carried eight times for 31 yards and two scores and also completed 8 of 11 for 143 yards and two more TDs. He found tight end Michael Teeter of Friendship Christian for a 5-yard pickup with his first completion.
Tech took the opening drive 54 yards on 10 plays, converting a pair of third downs, including a 17-yard completion to Krys Cates on a 3rd-and-16. Three plays later Stone hit Maleek Hall for a 16-yard touchdown pass and a 7-0 Golden Eagles advantage.
Cumberland drove nine plays on the ensuing drive, with Nwokoji rushing three yards for a first down and Gurchiek keeping on the read option for another. But Gurchiek threw into traffic just over midfield and TTU’s Cory Webber picked off the pass at the Tech 32.
Stone completed a 46-yard go route to Cates on the first play after the pick and six plays later rushed over the left side for the score and a 14-0 lead.
The Bulldog defense forced the only 3-and-out of the half on Tech’s next possession, but the Golden Eagles put together another scoring drive just before the half.
Zack Ziegler rushed 12 yards on the first play and another 15 yards on a late hit pushed the ball to the Tech 41. After a sack by CU’s Jared Williams, Stone found Cody Matthews for 10 yards and TTU picked up a first down when Devin Guthrie jumped offsides on 4th-and-5.
Two plays later Matthews made a terrific over-the-shoulder catch in the end zone, giving the home team a 35-0 lead at the break.
Former Lebanon lineman Kyron Hart registered a pair of assisted tackles for the Golden Eagles, who will travel to Wisconsin for a money game next Saturday.
Cumberland will travel to Williamsburg, Ky., Sept. 7 to take on University of the Cumberlands at 12:30 p.m. CDT.
Tennessee Tech 63, Cumberland 7
Cumberland 0 0 0 7—7
Tennessee Tech 14 21 21 7—63
Tennessee Tech — Maleek Hall 16 pass from Darian Stone [Zach Sharp kick], 12:01.
Tennessee Tech — Stone 4 run [Sharp kick], 3:07.
Tennessee Tech — Ladari Vanlier 52 run [Sharp kick], 12:30.
Tennessee Tech — Vanlier 93 punt return [Sharp kick], 9:21.
Tennessee Tech — Cody Matthews 26 pass from Stone [Sharp kick], :27.
Tennessee Tech — Stone 9 run [Sharp kick], 10:55.
Tennessee Tech — Stephen Bush 10 run [Sharp kick], 9:48.
Tennessee Tech — Colton Belew 39 pass from Jared Davis [Chris Harris kick], 6:51.
Tennessee Tech — Isaia McKinney 7 run [Harris kick], 10:54.
Cumberland — Broc Loveless 5 run [Beau Baker kick], 5:09.
Cumberland Tennessee Tech
First downs 12 26
—Passing 3 7
—Rushing 7 17
—Penalty 2 2
Rushes-yards 49-128 46-323
Passing yards 51 182
Comp.-Att.-Int. 10-15-2 9-12-0
Punts-avg. 5-47.4 1-45
Penalties-yards 6-45 5-45
Fumbles-lost 1-0 0-0
RUSHING — Cumberland: Mario Hill 7-37, Broc Loveless 6-34, Caleb Blance 13-32, Michael Nwokoji 16-31, team 1-0, Reed Gruchiek 7-[-6]. Tennessee Tech: Cody Forbes 8-69, Ladarius Vanlier 2-51, Stephen Bush 6-51, Radir Annoor, 8-51, Isaiah McKinney 7-47, Darian Stone 8-31, Zack Ziegler 2-9, Matt Hamby 1-8, Jared Davis 1-6.
PASSING — Cumberland: Reed Gurchiek 7-10-2-34, Broc Loveless 3-5-0-17. Tennessee Tech: Darian Stone 8-11-0-143, Jared Davs 1-1-0-39.
RECEIVING — Cumberland: DeJeay Woods 4-22, Cain Smith 2-10, Michael Green 2-9, Michael Nwokoji 1-5, Anthony Woodard 1-5. Tennessee Tech: Krys Cates 2-63, Cody Matthews 3-47, Colton Belew 1-39, Maleek Hall 1-16, Steve Wilson 1-12, Parker Teeter 1-5.