SKYHAWKS SET TO BATTLE THIRD FBS PROGRAM WITH TRIP TO SUN BELT FOE GEORGIA STATE
October 17, 2016
The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will take a break from the grind of the Ohio Valley Conference schedule with its final non-conference bout of the season against Football Bowl Subdivision and Sun Belt member Georgia State. Kickoff from the Georgia Dome is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT and can be seen on ESPN3.
The Skyhawks (4-3, 3-1 OVC) enter the contest looking to continue their hot play of late, winning four of their last five games. Most recently the squad left the state of Tennessee for the first time in a month by traveling to neighboring rival Murray State where the squad picked up a 38-31 road victory. Leading for much of the way, the Skyhawks put the finishing touch on the victory with a game-winning 75-yard touchdown by Greg McKillion along with a successful two-point conversion.
UT Martin is 1-22 all-time against FBS squads with its lone win coming against Memphis (20-17) in 2012. Georgia State serves as the 18th FBS opponent the Skyhawks have faced under the direction of head coach Jason Simpson while holding a 1-16 record in said games. Saturday’s game marks the third and final scheduled contest after battling Cincinnati (L, 28-7) and Hawai’i (L, 41-36) against a FBS opponent this season for the Skyhawks who join South Carolina State as the only Football Championship Subdivision programs to play three FBS opponents.
The Skyhawks boast the OVC’s top ranked scoring offense at 40.6 points per game behind the nation’s second ranked leader in pass efficiency Troy Cook (179.7) who has completed 96-of-152 passes for 1,482 yards and 19 touchdowns. Running back Jaimiee Bowe paces the squad with 98 carries for 422 yards and five touchdowns while Ben Axline leading the receiving core with 27 catches for 511 yards and four touchdowns.
Defensively, the Skyhawks are paced by Kahlid Hagens with 52 tackles while Tae Martin leads the squad with two interceptions, five pass breakups and two defensive touchdowns. Keith Jones has tallied 7.5 tackles for loss while the pair of Donald Cofield, Jr. and Caleb Counce lead the team with three sacks each. As a team, the Skyhawks have yet to allow over 300-yards through the air this season.
UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson is currently in his 11th season at the helm of the Skyhawks with an overall record of 69-52 and 54-31 league mark. Simpson currently sits ninth on the OVC’s all-time wins list while ranking as the league’s longest active tenured coach. Georgia State is coached by Trent Miles who holds a 28-71 career mark, including an 8-35 record in his four seasons at the helm of the Panthers.
Georgia State (1-5, 1-2 Sun Belt) looks to lean on its conference leading pass defense efficiency to pick up a Homecoming victory on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers are led offensively by quarterback Conner Manning who has completed 123-of-221 passes for 1,441 yards and eight touchdowns. Robert Davis paces the receiving core with 38 catches for 555 yards and three touchdowns while Kyler Neal has tallied 47 carries for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
Saturday’s contest serves as the first meeting between the two programs in series history.
The game will be featured on ESPN3 or WatchESPN app 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.