September 13, 2016

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MARTIN, Tenn. – After spending the first two weeks of the season on the road, the University of Tennessee at Martin football team will return home on Saturday, Sept. 17 when it plays host to NAIA foe Bacone College in the season-opener of newly renovated Hardy M. Graham Stadium. The stadium grand opening ceremony is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. with kickoff scheduled for 2 p.m.

The Skyhawks (0-2) are looking to notch their first win of the season after holding their own against Football Bowl Subdivision foe Cincinnati (28-7) and Hawai’i (41-36) in the first two games. Holding leads deep into both games, the Skyhawks scored the most points against a FBS opponent in program history with 36 against Hawai’i.

In their last time out, the Skyhawks were led by individual performances by running back Jaimiee Bowe, quarterback Troy Cook and wide receiver Ben Axline. Bowe tallied his second straight 100-yard performance of the season with 113 yards and one touchdown. Cook – making his first career start – tallied 12 completions for 204 yards and three touchdowns while Axline caught three balls for 104 yards and a touchdown. Another top performer was Londell Lee who earned OVC Specialist of the Week honors after returning a punt 79 yards for a touchdown.

Defensively, the Skyhawks tallied three turnovers for the second straight game, marking the second most forced turnovers against a FBS foe in program history – matching Auburn (2008), Memphis (2012) and Cincinnati (2016). The trio of Sheldon Dawson, Chris Williams-Hall and Kahlid Hagens each tallied their first interceptions of the season. The duo of Tae Martin and Kevin Prather, Jr. led the team with six tackles each.

Saturday’s game serves as the 2016 home opener for UT Martin. The Skyhawks are 49-34-3 all-time in home openers and are 9-1 in such games under head coach Jason Simpson. In fact, UT Martin is averaging 44.6 points per game in its home openers under Simpson. The Skyhawks have won eight straight home openers – the longest such streak in school history – and have won 12 of the last 14 home openers since 2002.

This will be the ninth time that the Skyhawks will square off against a non-Division-I team in head coach Jason Simpson’s tenure. UT Martin has gone 8-0 in that span and has averaged 56.1 points per game while producing four shutouts in those games.

Located in Muskogee, Okla., Bacone College is an NAIA school that competes in the Central States Football Conference. The Warriors opened their season with a 62-14 loss at Missouri S&T before falling by a 48-6 margin in their home opener against Robert Morris (Ill.) last week. Bacone is averaging 241.0 yards per game while the opposition is averaging 379.5 yards per outing against the Warrior defense.

Quarterback Trey Seward leads Bacone with 307 yards of total offense and accounts for two (one passing, one rushing) of the team’s three touchdowns on the season. Seward’s favorite target so far has been Antonio Wilson (five receptions, 101 yards, one touchdown) while he also has gotten a boost in the run game from Johnny Thomas (32 rushes, 101 yards). Defensively, Erik Brown (20 tackles) has had double-digit tackles in both games while Erik King has recorded 10 total tackles with an interception for the Warriors.

This will be the first matchup between the two programs in series history.

The game will be streamed live, free of charge, courtesy of the OVC Digital Network at the link above. Fans can also tune into Mix 101.3 FM to hear Tom Britt (play-by-play), Chris Brinkley (color) and John Abel (sideline) provide analysis. WUTM, UT Martin’s award-winning student radio station, will also broadcast the game locally on 90.3 FM. Links for both radio broadcasts, along with live stats can be accessed through their respective links above. For in-game updates, follow the Skyhawks on twitter @UTM_Gameday. Weather permitting, this week’s tailgating location will be on the football practice field located off the northwest corner of Hardy M. Graham Stadium.

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