Going into the 2021 campaign, the Tennessee Tech football team knew it was going to be in for a challenge, especially in this preseason slate against some strong competition.
Samford was certainly that, so will Tennessee next week.
Tech (0-2) saw another speed bump this week as the Golden Eagles were blanked 26-0 by Furman on Saturday in Tucker Stadium to open the home slate, but there's still a long way to go and conference play still weeks away.
"It was a disappointing loss," said Tech head coach Dewayne Alexander, "but any time the Golden Eagles lose, I'm going to be disappointed. Our defense played very well, played hard and were put into some bad spots at times. We never could get anything consistent going on offense. We started with a really good drive, but we just weren't able to finish. We're scrapping hard, but the consistency is not where it needs to be. There's a difference in playing hard and playing well -- you still have to be able to do both.
"We still have a lot of football ahead of us. There's still nine games left, there's still conference play ahead, so we have the opportunity to get some personnel back and get some guys well. We have to roll our sleeves up and keep working."
Furman, a historically powerful program in the Southern Conference, didn't put up the offensive numbers to the degree it did last week against North Carolina A&T, collecting two touchdown runs for Devin Wynn – 42 and two yards respectively – as well as four field goals from Timmy Bleekrode, including a 51- and a 45-yarder.
Tech's defense, already missing a couple of key components following last week's loss at Samford, stood as tall as they could against the visiting Paladins, forcing Furman to punt six times in addition to the six scoring drives.
The offense, on the other hand, struggled to take flight. Behind a solid effort on defense, the Paladins held Tech to six first downs in the contest, the fewest since the Golden Eagles' loss to Chattanooga in 2014. Travis Blackshear intercepted two passes and DiMarcus Clay another, while Seth Johnson forced a fumble. Hugh Ryan led the Paladins with seven tackles.
The Golden Eagles rushed for 23 net yards, led by 32 yards from David Gist
, with negative rushes bringing down the overall total. Gist also had 33 yards on four catches to finish with 65 yards of offense out of Tech's total of 121.
For the Paladins, Hamp Sisson was 17-of-29 for 196 yards, including five completions to Joshua Harris for 54 yards and three to Zach Peterson for 52 yards. Wynn, while recording two touchdown runs on the day, totaled 84 yards on 17 totes, averaging 4.9 yards a carry.
Tech returns to action next week as it takes on Tennessee for its annual sojourn into the Football Bowl Subdivision. Kickoff is scheduled for 11 a.m. next Saturday.