Back-to-back gut-wrenching losses ended any chance of the Colonels claiming an Ohio Valley Conference championship or receiving a bid to the Football Championship Subdivision Playoffs.
Those setbacks didn't break the team's spirit, though.
"You give it your all and you come up short and its just leaves you heartbroken," EKU senior defensive lineman Taquan Evans said. "We came out here (this week) and everyone was playing for each other. Everybody was uplifted. No one was down. Everybody just wanted to come out and get a win."
The Colonels came up with one of their best all-around efforts of the season Saturday on Senior Day at Roy Kidd Stadium.
EKU (6-5, 4-3 OVC) snapped a two-game losing streak with an impressive 22-10 win over Tennessee Tech (6-5, 3-4). The Colonels got a dominant defensive performance — highlighted by seven sacks — while racking up 442 total yards.
Senior Sam Hayworth had three field goals, while senior running back Daryl McCleskey had 106 yards and a touchdown in a feel-good victory for the Colonels.
"It was great to see the smiles on their faces," EKU coach Mark Elder said. "Those guys were really excited about the win."
The Colonels let second-half leads slip away in each of the past two weeks against Austin Peay and Southeast Missouri State.
They took a 16-7 lead into the break on Saturday. The Golden Eagles got a 52-yard field goal by Haidar Zaiden, but the Colonels sealed the win with a 1-yard touchdown run by Alonzo Booth early in the fourth quarter.
"We hadn't put together a full game yet. So, to keep on grinding it out and finish against a great team it feels really good," McCleskey said.
The Golden Eagles scored 37 points in a win last week against Jacksonville State.
On Saturday, they couldn't get anything going against an inspired EKU defense.
Tennessee Tech had just 150 total yards of offense, including only two rushing yards. The Colonels had 10 tackles-for-loss, five quarterback hurries and piled up 41 yards on sacks.
"That's a high-powered offense that has been putting up big numbers," Elder said. "They've been scoring a lot of points. Our defense was spectacular."
Evans led the charge.
The senior defensive end had three sacks, while Corey Glass, Kabbash Richards, Daulson Fitzpatrick and Aaron Patrick also had sacks.
Glass also had a team-best seven tackles.
"The defensive line was hunting as a pack," Evans.
The EKU defense allowed only one touchdown, but that score came after a turnover gave TTU great field possession. A fumble by quarterback Parker McKinney set up the Golden Eagles on the EKU 5-yard line.
Sophomore quarterback Bailey Fisher scored on a 6-yard run three plays later to give Tech a 7-0 lead 6:46 left in the first quarter.
EKU tied the game moments later.
McKinney hit Matt Wilcox on a 26-yard pass, then hooked up Jerome Glass on an 11-yard reception. McCleskey finished the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Colonels took the lead in the second quarter with three field goals by Hayworth — 22, 36 and 29 yards.
"We moved the ball effectively," Elder said. "We controlled the game. It was a 12-point victory, but I didn't feel like there any point where we weren't in control."
The Colonels had 24 first downs, were 8-of-17 on third-down conversions and got points on their first five trips into the red zone.
The final score was hard-earned.
EKU had a first-and-goal on the TTU 3-yard line. Booth, a 6-foot-1, 250-pound back, was stopped short of the goal line twice before finally leaping through the line and landing on his feet in the end zone.
"I think people underestimate his athleticism," McCleskey said. "The big guy can move."
McKinney left the game late with an injury. The redshirt freshman rushed for 68 yards and completed 13-of-26 passes for 188 yards.
Booth had 52 yards on 13 carries. Wilcox had five catches for 58 yards. B.K. Smith had three catches for 59 yards, while Keyion Dixon and Malik Owen had two catches each.
The Colonels will more than likely miss out on the FCS Playoffs for a fifth-straight season.
They still have something to play for heading into next week's finale at Jacksonville State.
"Our seniors have a chance to go out with back-to-back seven-win seasons," Elder said. "That hasn't happened around here a lot in the past 25 years."