October 16, 2017

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Gameday Central

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The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will leave the state of Tennessee for the first time in well over a month with a road matchup at Ohio Valley Conference foe Eastern Kentucky on Saturday, Oct. 21. Kickoff from Roy Kidd Stadium is scheduled to get underway at 2 p.m. CST.

This game serves as a matchup of two of the best OVC programs in recent history. Since 2008, Eastern Kentucky (60) and UT Martin (58) rank No. 2 and No. 4, respectively, in league victories. These two programs have combined for nine top-two OVC finishes during that span. UT Martin has finished at least 5-3 in the league standings since 2012 while Eastern Kentucky has a vast history which includes a pair of national championships and 21 conference titles.

The Skyhawks (3-3, 1-2 OVC) enter the contest looking to get back to the team’s winning ways after dropping consecutive contests for the first time this season prior to the break. Needing a jump start to an offense which has been held without a touchdown for nine consecutive quarters, UT Martin will turn to the OVC’s leader in rushing yards (629) and rushing yards per game (104.8) in junior tailback Ladarius Galloway. Galloway has tallied 114 carries for 629 yards and four touchdowns while ranking second in the conference in all-purpose yards with 125.3 per game.

Despite the team’s offensive woes as of late, UT Martin possess one of the nation’s toughest defenses. The Skyhawks rank fifth nationally in total defense (271.0 ygp), first down defense (85), redzone defense (60.0 percent) and fourth down conversion defense (14.3 percent) while sitting seventh in third down conversion defense (28.9 percent) and scoring defense (14.7 ppg). Additionally, the Skyhawks rank ninth in the country with 79.3 rushing yards allowed per contest.

Individually, the Skyhawks are led defensively by junior linebacker James Gilleylen who paces the squad with 48 total tackles, six tackles for loss and a pair of sacks to go along with two fumble recoveries and forced fumbles each. The senior safety duo of Kahlid Hagens, Tae Martin and Joseph Este have combined to tally 90 tackles, six tackles for loss, five interceptions and 12 pass breakups to lead the secondary.

The game will feature a head coaching matchup of UT Martin’s Jason Simpson and Eastern Kentucky’s Mark Elder. Simpson is looking to move into a tie for seventh on the OVC’s conference-only wins leaderboard with his next victory after entering the contest with a 58-33 league mark in 12 seasons while posting a 75-57 career record. Meanwhile, Elder is in his second season at the helm of the Colonels notching a 4-13 mark.

Eastern Kentucky (1-5, 1-3 OVC) features one of the youngest rosters in the conference including 61 newcomers and 63 players which are either true freshmen or redshirt freshmen. Leading the way for the Colonels is senior quarterback Tim Boyle which leads the OVC in total offense with 218.8 yards per game while completing 123-of-197 passes for 1,337 yards and seven touchdowns. LJ Scott paces the rushing attack with 50 carries for 149 yards and three touchdowns while Ryan Markush leads the receiving core with 34 receptions for 518 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, the Colonels are led by Jeffrey Canady with 49 total tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and three quarterback hurries.

Saturday’s contest marks the 28th matchup between UT Martin and Eastern Kentucky with the Colonels holding a significant advantage in the series with a 23-4 advantage. Despite the lopsided margin, all four of the program’s victories have occurred during the Jason Simpson era - including consecutive road victories in 2013 and 2015. The Colonels have posted a strong showing in contests played at Roy Kidd Stadium, holding a 218-55-1 record at home – including a 2-11 mark against the Skyhawks.

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.

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