SKYHAWKS SET TO TRAVEL TO NO. 24 EASTERN ILLINOIS FOR WEEKEND SHOWDOWN

October 31, 2016

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The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will travel to the Land of Lincoln for a weekend matinee matchup against Ohio Valley Conference rival and No. 24 ranked Eastern Illinois on Saturday, Nov. 5. Kickoff from O’Brien Field is scheduled for 1 p.m.

Saturday’s matchup will pit two of the league’s elite programs over the last decade. Since 2006, UT Martin and Eastern Illinois are tied for the third most wins in the OVC with 55 wins each. Historically the matchup has been highly contested despite Eastern Illinois holding a 13-7 series advantage and an 8-2 mark at home. UT Martin has won four of the past six matchups between the two program’s despite suffering a 23-21 loss in last season’s contest.

UT Martin (5-4, 4-1 OVC) enters the weekend looking to notch its first win over a ranked opponent since last season while building upon the team’s dominating performance over Eastern Kentucky the last time out. The Skyhawks boast the league’s No. 1 scoring offense at 35.9 points per game while also ranking second in total defense allowing 326.1 yards per game. In the team’s most recent performance, the Skyhawks defeated Eastern Kentucky 33-3, allowing the fewest points to an OVC opponent since 2010 while holding the Colonels to a season-low 229 yards of total offense. Along with the stingy defensive attack, the offense eclipsed the 500 yards of total offense behind a season-best 364 rushing yards.

Running back Ladevin Fair posted a career performance against Eastern Kentucky, tallying career highs in carries (25), rushing yards (181) and rushing touchdowns (two) while also tossing a 33-yard touchdown pass in the blowout victory. On the defensive side of the ball, it was reigning OVC Defensive Player of the Week James Gilleylen who notched the team’s fifth defensive touchdown of the season with a nine-yard interception return while junior Kahlid Hagens paced the squad once again with 11 tackles.

UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson moved into a tie for eighth place on the OVC’s all-time wins list with 70 to join Tennessee Tech’s Wilburn Tucker following the victory over Eastern Kentucky. Simpson is in his 11th season at the helm of the Skyhawks with an overall record of 70-53 and 55-31 league mark. Eastern Illinois is coached by third-year head coach Kim Dameron who holds a 17-16 record.

Eastern Illinois (5-4, 3-3 OVC) enters the contest ranked No. 24 in the nation, holding a Top-25 ranking for seven consecutive weeks despite dropping a 47-17 decision to No. 2 ranked Jacksonville State its last time out. The Panthers managing just 12 first downs and 231 yards of total offense against the OVC-leader, well below their season average of 413.9 yards per game.

The Panthers are led by quarterback Mitch Kimble who has completed 112-of-190 passes for 1,414 yards and 13 touchdowns in his debut season. Running back Devin Church leads the team in all-purpose yards with 134.1 yards per game after leading the team in both rushing (159 carries, 788 yards and five touchdowns) and receiving (37 catches, 345 yards and six touchdowns). On the defensive side of the ball, Seth McDonald paces the team with 86 tackles and three quarterback hurries while Jarvis Williams has tallied 11 tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks on the season.

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. Links for both the radio broadcast, along with live stats can be accessed through their respective links above. For in-game updates, follow the Skyhawks on twitter @UTM_Gameday.



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