Eight different University of Tennessee at Martin football players scored a touchdown this evening in a 63-7 triumph over Cumberland University in the 2014 home opener at Hardy Graham Stadium.
The Skyhawks piled up 621 yards of total offense tonight (320 rushing, 301 passing) while scoring nine total touchdowns. Defensively, UT Martin tallied 12 tackles for loss (including three sacks) and an interception while limiting the Bulldogs to 161 yards of total offense (86 rushing, 75 passing).
Tonight marked the most yards gained by a UT Martin team since the Skyhawks tallied 693 yards at Murray State on Oct. 13, 2012. It also was the most points scored in a game since UT Martin compiled 63 points against Union College on Sept. 15, 2011.
“Obviously it’s good to get a win under our belt after a tough two games to start the season,” Skyhawk head coach Jason Simpson said. “One of the things that I’m most proud of is that everybody got to play and get the experience of college football. That will help us as we go forward and will help our growth as a team.”
Abou Toure rushed for a career-high 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 20 carries for UT Martin (1-2). Jarod Neal threw for 199 yards and three touchdowns while Dylan Favre tallied 103 passing yards and tallied two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing). Together, Neal, Favre and Manny Stocker combined to complete 84.4 percent (27-for-32) of their passes.
Trent Garland and Stocker added a touchdown on the ground while William Tanner (team-high 86 yards), Kyle Kerrick, Kevin Anderson and Corey Jordan all contributed with touchdown receptions.
Defensively, Deilouse Jackson’s seven tackles led the Skyhawks while Trey Warren added 1.5 sacks. Tony Bell was responsible for UT Martin’s first interception of the season while the Skyhawks amassed six pass breakups and 13 quarterback hurries.
An NAIA school based out of Lebanon, Tenn., Cumberland was led by Michael Green’s two receptions for 41 yards and a touchdown. Quarterbacks Reed Gurchiek (46 yards and a touchdown) and Broc Loveless (29 yards) combined to go 6-for-30 passing while George Nwokoji had a team-best 24 rushing yards. DeAnthony Patrick accumulated a game-high 13 tackles while Cayman Russell had 2.5 tackles for loss for the Bulldogs.
UT Martin got on the scoreboard first after both teams’ first drives stalled. The Skyhawks drove 10 plays for 87 yards in a span of 2:43, capped off with a Neal touchdown strike to Jordan in the right corner of the endzone. Jackson Redditt’s PAT was true and the Skyhawks were out to a 7-0 lead at the 10:48 mark of the first quarter.
The Skyhawks would force back-to-back punts on Cumberland’s next two drives – including a three-and-out that gave UT Martin the ball at its own 9-yard line with 1:18 to go in the first quarter.
Favre then took over at quarterback for the Skyhawks, as Favre completed five of his six passes on the drive and rushed for a gain of seven yards on 3rd-and-7 at the Cumberland 5-yard line. Two plays later, Toure found the endzone from three yards out to provide UT Martin with a 14-0 lead with 11:50 to play in the second quarter.
The two teams swapped possessions but Cumberland took over at the Skyhawk 12-yard line after recovering a UT Martin fumble. The Skyhawk defense then stepped up in a big way after the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage advanced the ball to the 1-yard line. UT Martin pushed Cumberland back a yard on a rushing play, forced an incomplete pass and then held the Bulldogs to no gain on another rushing attempt. On 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Cumberland went for it but a rushing attempt was sniffed out by Justin Jackson and Nick Dance, who forced a turnover on downs.
On the Skyhawks’ ensuing possession, Neal found Anderson for a 27-yard completion on 3rd-and-7 and followed with two completions to Najee Ray and a 21-yard pass to Kerrick to set up UT Martin’s next scoring play. On 1st-and-10 from the Cumberland 18-yard line, Neal rolled right and found an open Anderson in the corner of the endzone to make the score 21-0 with 3:39 left in the first half. The Skyhawks marched the ball 99 yards on 10 plays in just 2:44 on their third scoring drive.
The defense then made another big play that resulted in more points on the scoreboard. On 3rd-and-11, Bell hauled in his first career interception and returned the ball down to the Bulldog 15-yard line, giving the Skyhawk offense another red-zone opportunity.
UT Martin cashed in quickly, as Garland rumbled in from 15 yards out on the first play from scrimmage to give the Skyhawks a 28-0 lead at the 3:10 mark of the second quarter.
The Skyhawk defensive unit then pushed Cumberland back three yards over three plays and forced another punt, this time taking over at the Bulldogs’ 43-yard line.
Favre then connected with Tanner on three different passes on the drive, finding him for gains of 16 and 13 yards each before an eight-yard slant led to another touchdown and a 35-0 lead the Skyhawks would carry into halftime.
Cumberland would take advantage of a Skyhawk fumble on a punt return to score on a 41-yard pass at the 12:12 mark of the third quarter.
UT Martin responded quickly, needing just four plays to find the endzone again. Neal hit Tanner with a 49-yard pass to get the Skyhawks in Cumberland territory. Neal then targeted Kerrick for an eight-yard touchdown pass to extend UT Martin’s lead out to 42-7 with 10:45 remaining in the quarter.
The Skyhawk defense once again held Cumberland to negative yardage on its next drive, as the Bulldogs only managed -1 yards on three plays.
UT Martin had three carries for double-digit yards on its next drive, capped off with a one-yard dive by Favre to make the score 49-7 at the 7:45 mark of the third quarter.
The Skyhawks kept Cumberland off the scoreboard to close out the third quarter. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Toure scrambled in from four yards out to give UT Martin a 56-7 lead.
After another three-and-out by the UT Martin defense, Stocker took over at quarterback and immediately made his presence felt. On the first touch of his Skyhawk career, the North Carolina State transfer sprinted 70 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown to give UT Martin a 63-7 advantage to conclude the scoring on both sides.
The Skyhawks continue their three-game homestand next weekend when they begin Ohio Valley Conference play against No. 25 Eastern Kentucky. Kickoff on Saturday, Sept. 20 is set for noon at Hardy Graham Stadium.