October 14, 2013

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MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will clash with its third nationally ranked opponent when they play host to Ohio Valley Conference foe Tennessee State on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 1 p.m. Kickoff against the No. 22 Tigers is set for 1 p.m.

This game serves as the second of three games for UT Martin in the seventh-annual Sgt. York Trophy series. The Sgt. York Trophy goes to the winner of the quadrangular season series between the four OVC football playing schools located in the state of Tennessee (Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin).The award is only the second traveling trophy that involves more than two teams in college sports, as the other is the Commander in Chief's Trophy which has been contested between Air Force, Army and Navy annually since 1972. UT Martin has won the Sgt. York trophy twice (2010, 2012) and has a 12-7 all-time record in the series – the best mark of the four Tennessee OVC schools.

Tennessee State leads the all-time series between these two schools with a 14-8 mark but the Skyhawks have won five of the last seven dating back to 2005. UT Martin has won four of the last five contests against the Tigers played at Hardy Graham Stadium. Under head coach Jason Simpson, the Skyhawks have averaged 36.5 points per outing in six games against Tennessee State.

Statistically, this game projects to be a defensive battle. Tennessee State leads the nation in total defense (253.1 yards per game). The Tigers claim the OVC leader in sacks (Anthony Bass, 6.0), tackles for loss (Bass and Marquaveus Jackson, 8.0) and interceptions (Daniel Fitzpatrick and David Van Dyke, four). Meanwhile, UT Martin ranks right behind Tennessee State in OVC total defense (382.2 yards per game). The Skyhawks have only conceded 27 first-half points in five games against FCS competition, including three or less points on four different occasions.

UT Martin (4-2, 2-1 OVC) chalked up a big 28-17 victory at OVC rival Tennessee Tech last Thursday. The Skyhawks jumped out to a 28-3 halftime lead and never looked back, setting season-highs in tackles-for-loss (nine), sacks (five), forced fumbles (three) and interceptions (two). Redshirt sophomore Jarod Neal earned the starting nod at quarterback against Tennessee Tech for the second time this season, completing 72.4 percent of his passes (21-for-29) for a career-high 270 yards and a touchdown while adding a rushing touchdown for the second time in as many weeks. OVC rushing leader DJ McNeil also added a career-high 168 rushing yards and his 17th career rushing touchdown.

Tennessee State (6-1, 3-0 OVC) moved up to No. 22 in the national polls after its sixth straight victory, a 31-15 road win at OVC member Jacksonville State. In that game, the Tigers limited the Gamecocks to a season-low 292 yards – including only 21 rushing yards on 34 carries – and 14 tackles for loss. Running back Tim Broughton tallied a career-best 190 yards on the ground while quarterback Michael German threw for three touchdowns to pace the Tennessee State offense. Wesley Samuels hauled in a pair of touchdown receptions for the Tigers, who led 21-15 early in the fourth quarter before closing out the game with 10 unanswered points.

This game will be broadcasted live, free of charge, courtesy of the OVC Digital Network at the link above. Locally, fans can tune into WCMT 101.3 FM to hear Tom Britt (play-by-play), Chris Brinkley (color) and John Abel (sidelines) call all the action. Fans from outside the local broadcast area can listen to WUTM – the Skyhawks’ award-winning student radio station – online by clicking on the link at the top of the page. Live stats will also be available at the link above.

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