The UTM Football team dropped their season opener to the Kentucky Wildcats 59-14.
The Skyhawks (0-1) had 398 total yards of offense against the Wildcats (1-0), but costly turnovers and giving up big plays on defense cost UTM a chance at victory.
“There wasn’t a whole lot of positive,” said Jason Simpson, UTM’s head football coach . “Defensively, [we gave up] too many big plays.”
A couple of defensive stops by both teams started the game, but Kentucky got on the board first after a two yard touchdown run by Jojo Kemp, set up by a 44-yard pass play by quarterback Patrick Towels and wide receiver Javess Blue.
Kentucky didn’t stop there though, as Braylon Heard had both a 73-yard and a 43-yard touchdown rush on the next two Kentucky drives. Patrick Towels also threw a 29-yard touchdown pass to Blake Bone and capped off the half with a 18-yard touchdown run by Mikel Horton.
At the half, the Skyhawks found themselves trailing 35-0. Jarod Neal, who had started the game for the Skyhawks, was replaced by Dylan Favre in the second quarter. UTM came close to the red zone once in the first half during Favre’s first drive in at quarterback, but threw a costly interception to Kentucky safety A.J. Stamps.
The Wildcats started the second half exactly the way they ended the first, by scoring a rushing touchdown by Patrick Towels, a field goal and a 89-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by linebacker Khalid Henderson. At the end of the third quarter, Kentucky had a 52-0 lead.
The Skyhawks put Jarod Neal back in the game at quarterback to start the fourth quarter and UTM got on the board from a one-yard touchdown run from Najee Ray. After a quick defensive stop, the Skyhawks got the ball back and scored again from a 15-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Caylon Weathers.
Kentucky picked up another quick touchdown off a 14-yard run from Mikel Horton and the Wildcats picked up the victory over the Skyhawks 59-14.
The Skyhawks had 398-yards of total offense from 215-yards passing and 183-yards rushing, but also turned the ball over five times. Despite throwing for -1 yard in the first half, Neal ended the game with 173-yards passing and a touchdown. Dylan Favre played the second and third quarter and had 42 passing yards and two interceptions. Abou Toure led the Skyhawks rushing attack with 17 attempts for 83 rushing yards.
Kentucky had 656-yards of total offense from 234 rushing yards and 422 passing yards. The starter for Kentucky, Patrick Towels, threw for 377-yards, had one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown.
After the game, Simpson mentioned that the problems on defense needed to get fixed.
“[The defense] better get it fixed,” Simpson said. “They will go back to work … I’m not going to sit here and make excuses for anybody on this football team. When you have 22 seniors, you need to play better than that in all phases.”
The Skyhawks will travel to Conway, Arkansas for their next contest against the Central Arkansas Bears. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6, at Estes Stadium.
Go to the UTM Skyhawks vs Kentucky Wildcats 2014 photo gallery to view more photos of the game.
Feature Photo Credit: (Jeremy Smith)