SKYHAWKS SET TO OPEN OVC PLAY AND SGT. YORK TROPHY DEFENSE AGAINST TENNESSEE TECH
September 19, 2016
MARTIN, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will look to begin its title defense of the coveted Sgt. York Trophy on Saturday, Sept. 24 when it plays host to Tennessee Tech in the squad’s Ohio Valley Conference opener. Kickoff from Hardy M. Graham Stadium is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday is also Youth Day as part of a week-long initiative for local youth receiving free admission for children kindergarten through eighth grade.
Saturday’s game serves as the first of three games for UT Martin in the 10th annual Sgt. York Trophy series, presented by Delta Dental of Tennessee. 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 Skyhawks have swept the Sgt. York Trophy series the past two seasons - adding their fourth title (2010, 2012, 2014 and 2015) in series history. UT Martin is 19-8 all-time in the series - the best mark of the four schools. The Skyhawks are 11-1 against Tennessee schools since 2013.
UT Martin gave the fans a show in its home opener in newly renovated Graham Stadium as the Skyhawks (1-2, 0-0 OVC) picked up their first win of the season while scoring the third-most points in program history in an 84-6 victory – ranking only behind 97 points against Bethel (1995) and 87 against Concordia (2008). Controlling the contest from the opening kickoff, the Skyhawks tallied 12 touchdowns despite accumulating only 347 yards of total offense. UT Martin took advantage of prime field position throughout the game, starting nine of its 10 scoring drives in Bacone territory on top of two defensive touchdowns.
Against Bacone, the running back duo of Jaimiee Bowe and Ty Brown each tallied two rushing touchdowns while the Skyhawk passing game produced five touchdowns through the air. Troy Cook completed 10-of-12 passes for 167 yards and four touchdowns. Cook found Caylon Weathers for two touchdowns through the air while connecting with the trio of Kyle Kerrick, Jaylen Moore and Greg McKillion for a score each. On the defensive side of the ball, UT Martin tallied three forced turnovers for the third consecutive contest – including two defensive scores by Tae Martin (36-yard interception return) and Trey Warren (fumble recovery in the endzone).
UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson is currently in his 11th season at the helm of the Skyhawks with an overall record of 66-51. Simpson currently sits ninth on the OVC’s all-time wins list while ranking as the league’s longest active tenured coach. Tennessee Tech is coached by first-year head coach Marcus Satterfield who previously served as the Skyhawks pass game coordinator and associate head coach for three seasons under Simpson from 2006-08.
Tennessee Tech (1-2, 1-0 OVC) enters the contest fresh off a 34-27 loss to Mercer in its last contest. The game was highlighted by a 100-yard kickoff return by OVC Specialist of the Week Dontez Byrd on the opening kickoff. The Golden Eagles could manage just 257 yards of total offense after being limited to just 18 net rushing yards. Saturday’s game will serve as the second OVC matchup for the Golden Eagles after defeating Austin Peay 41-7 in Week Two.
The Golden Eagles are led offensively by Marshall transfer quarterback Michael Birdsong who has completed 64-of-91 passes for 735 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. The team features three receivers with over a 100-yards receiving on the season in Kip Patton (15 rec., 172 yards, 1 touchdown), Brock McCoin (16 rec., 155 yards, 1 touchdown) and Dontez Byrd (14 rec., 140 yards). Running back Yeedee Thaenrat leads the ground attack with 45 carries for 190 yards and touchdown. Defensively, TTU is paced by Josh Poplar (27) and Deontay Wilson (23) in the tackles category while notching 19 tackles for loss and four sacks on the season as a team.
This will be the 38th matchup between the two conference foes, extending a series that dates back to 1926. Although Tennessee Tech leads the all-time series between these two schools, UT Martin holds a narrow 8-5 edge in the series since 2003. The in-state battle has seen six of the last nine games in the series be decided by a touchdown or less. Keeping with a theme of strange series notes, the road team has claimed the victory in eight of the last 10 games since 2006.
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.