August 17, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – Facing off in its second scrimmage of the preseason, the University of Tennessee at Martin football team’s offense made another strong impression under the lights en route to 10 touchdowns against its navy blue counterparts.

With just over two weeks before the season opener at Cincinnati on Thursday, Sept. 1, UT Martin completed its second of four scheduled preseason scrimmages on Wednesday evening. The Skyhawks ran nearly 90 plays in addition to special team situations while focusing on the depth of the program by giving the second and third teams most of the reps.

“The plan tonight was to get the ones about 20-25 plays while getting the twos and threes maybe 35 or so reps,” said UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson. “The offense made some plays and that was good to see but I was very disappointed in our defense. There were too many big runs and big plays against our defense.”

While the players moved in and out of formations, one thing that stayed consistent all evening was a Skyhawk offense which accumulated over 629 yards of total offense in addition to the team’s 14 first downs and 10 touchdowns on the night.

Sticking with the theme of the on-going quarterback battle, three different quarterbacks took numerous snaps. Junior Troy Cook went 8-for-10 with 133 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Gunnar Holcombe completed 6-of-9 passes for 79 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Kyle Akin took the bulk of the snaps while completing 7-of-16 attempts for 77 yards.

While the quarterback battle has been highly touted throughout camp, it was the depth at the running back position which stole the show on Wednesday evening. Sophomores Terry Norris and Marcus Laflore led the way with three carries each while both notching a touchdown on the night. Martin native Ty Brown also posted explosive runs, including a 70-yard breakaway touchdown on the fifth play of the night. Senior Najee Ray made the most of his two carries, tallying runs of 47 and 20 yards – both of which for touchdowns. The transfer duo of Marquez Grayson and Terrance Hollingsworth also tallied rushing touchdowns.

Joining in the offense explosion was the play of senior wide receivers Greg McKillion and Ben Axline who combined for 72 yards receiving and a touchdown each.

“On one side of the ball there were big plays and established drives while getting a lot of personnel different looks,” said Simpson. “The backs ran hard and broke some tackles while making guys miss at the third level.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Skyhawks limited the offensive unit to just four three-and-outs on the night while tallying two turnovers. Freshman Julian Crutchfield paced the team with two of the squad’s six sacks while Chris Coleman, Jay Murphy, Matt Counce and TJ Jefferson each got to the quarterback. Sophomore Andrew Horton-Martindale tallied the team’s first takeaway following an interception while Junior Tae Martin recovered a fumble forced by Jefferson just six plays later.

UT Martin will return to the gridiron for an afternoon practice on Thursday, Aug. 18 and Friday, Aug. 19 at 3:30 p.m. The Skyhawks will conducted their third scrimmage of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 20 at 7:30 p.m. as the second part of the team’s final two-a-day of camp.

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