For the third time in program history, the University of Tennessee at Martin football team claimed the Sgt. York Trophy as the Skyhawks posted a 37-7 victory over Austin Peay on Homecoming at Hardy Graham Stadium.
The Skyhawks completed their 2014 Sgt. York Trophy sweep today after their third straight win in the series. UT Martin defeated Tennessee Tech (17-10) on Oct. 9, followed by a win at Tennessee State (21-16) last week. The Skyhawks improve to 16-8 in the all-time Sgt. York Trophy series, which rewards the winner of the season series between the four Ohio Valley Conference football playing schools located in the state of Tennessee. UT Martin also won the trophy outright in 2010 and shared the trophy in 2012.
Today’s win also resulted in a season-long three-game winning streak for UT Martin, who improves to 4-5 overall and 3-3 in league play.
Abou Toure rushed for over 100 yards for the third time this season, compiling 114 yards on 13 carries (8.8 yards per rush) while scoring a pair of touchdowns. Dylan Favre completed 11-of-17 passes for a game-high 205 yards and two touchdowns while Taylor Higgason compiled a game-high 67 yards receiving and a touchdown. Trent Garland (rushing touchdown) and William Tanner (touchdown reception) also found the endzone today for UT Martin, who outgained the Governors by a 496-170 yard margin.
Defensively, the Skyhawks were led by Tony Bell’s game-high 11 tackles and two sacks. Aaron Simms (forced fumble), Ryan Isom (fumble recovery), Leon Carlton III (interception) and Walter Evans (interception) all had a hand in forcing turnovers for UT Martin, who has limited its last three OVC opponents to 11.0 points per game.
Darrien Boone (56 passing yards, touchdown), Wesley Thomas (50 receiving yards, touchdown) and Justin Roberson (53 rushing yards) led Austin Peay today. Adam Noble’s 10 tackles paced the Governors defensively.
“You can look at the last three weeks – that’s three wins in a row where we have won the turnover battle,” UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said. “There are so many things in the course of a game, we could be sitting at 6-3 right now but I never saw this team get too low. They kept it together, kept focusing, were coachable and believed that the wins would come.”
It was an emotional day from the beginning, as the Skyhawks honored their 21 seniors in a pregame ceremony.
The UT Martin defense allowed the Skyhawks to strike first on the scoreboard. UT Martin posted a three-and-out on Austin Peay’s first drive and on its next possession, Simms forced a fumble on the Governors’ 20-yard line to put the Skyhawk offense in prime field position after the fumble was recovered by Isom.
Three plays later, Toure scampered into the endzone from nine yards out. Jackson Redditt successfully booted the PAT to give UT Martin a 7-0 advantage with 8:47 remaining in the first quarter.
Austin Peay was then forced to punt on each of its next two drives, pinning the Skyhawks back at their own 1-yard line on UT Martin’s first possession of the second quarter.
Favre then took over for starter Jarod Neal at quarterback and engineered the Skyhawks 99 yards on 10 plays that used up 3:45 of clock time. A highlight reel one-handed 43 yard reception by Caylon Weathers extended the drive on 3rd-and-4 while Ben Axline (19 yard reception) and Toure (27 yard rush) each accounted for big plays before Garland completed the scoring drive with a two yard rush on 4th-and-goal.
The swarming Skyhawk defense then pushed Austin Peay back a total of 14 yards on its next drive, forcing the Governors to punt for the fourth time in the first 21 minutes of the contest.
Redditt’s accuracy was on display on UT Martin’s ensuing possession, as he nailed a 34 yard field goal with 6:31 left in the second quarter to make the score 17-0.
The Skyhawks then came up with an interception on each of their next two drives. With Austin Peay driving into UT Martin territory, Carlton stepped in front of a Mickey Macius pass and returned it 11 yards to keep the Governors off the scoreboard.
Favre found Tanner with a 19-yard touchdown strike on the Skyhawks’ next drive. The PAT failed and as a result, UT Martin took a 23-0 lead.
Evans then accounted for another Skyhawk turnover, intercepting Boone to essentially close out the first half.
UT Martin gained 253 yards in the first half while limiting Austin Peay to just 70 yards on 30 plays.
The Governors gained one yard on three plays on the opening possession of the second half and it didn’t take long for the Skyhawks to get back in the scoring column. Toure was a workhorse on UT Martin’s scoring drive, carrying the ball on four of the five plays – including a 35 yard rush before a six yard carry provided the Skyhawks with a 30-0 advantage.
The Skyhawks forced two more Austin Peay punts before getting back on the scoreboard. Taking over at its own 43-yard line, Favre completed a pass to Higgason for nine yards before dropping a perfect 48 yard pass down the right seam for a touchdown to make the score 37-0 with 2:07 to play in the third quarter.
A sack by Bell forced a turnover on downs on the Skyhawks’ next defensive possession. Austin Peay would get on the scoreboard at the 12:52 mark of the fourth quarter to conclude the scoring in the contest.
UT Martin returns to OVC play next Saturday, Nov. 1 when it makes the short trek to Murray State for a 1 p.m. kickoff.