The UTM football team will look to put their tough 31-6 loss Saturday to Georgia State behind them as they get ready for a tough, four-game stretch to finish out their 2016 season.
The Skyhawks (4-4, 3-1 OVC) showed some promise last week at FBS foe Georgia State, holding the Panthers to a 10-3 lead at halftime. However, two defensive touchdowns late in the third quarter and the UTM’s inability to make big plays down the stretch ultimately prevented them from picking up what would have been their second win over an FBS opponent in program history.
“It’s disappointing anytime you lose,” said UTM head coach Jason Simpson. “I thought our defense gave us a chance, it was 10-3 at halftime…just couldn’t get anything going offensively. We gave up a fumble recovery for a touchdown and pick-six on the next play and then it’s 24-3. It took a lot of the wind out of our sails.”
Despite their record, the Skyhawks still have an opportunity to clinch another Ohio Valley Conference championship, something they haven’t done since 2006. However, the Skyhawks need to play perfect throughout the remaining four games of their schedule, starting this Saturday when they face the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
The Colonels (2-5, 1-3 OVC) will be led onto the field by first year head coach Mark Elder, who last season served as the tight-ends coach at the University of Tennessee. Despite their record, the Colonels had several opportunities to win some close games this season that they ultimately loss. Last week, the Colonels held defending OVC champion Jacksonville State to zero offensive touchdowns, but still loss 24-7 thanks to three JSU defensive touchdowns.
Saturday’s matchup will pit two of the best defensive teams in the OVC against each other. The Skyhawks so far this season are allowing 28.1 points per game, which ranks fourth in OVC, and 338.2 yards per game, which ranks second in the OVC. The Colonels on the other hand are allowing 29.7 points per game and 396.6 yards per game.
The difference in Saturday’s game will likely be on the offensive side of the football. The Skyhawks still boast the best scoring offense in the conference, averaging 36.2 points per game.
Eastern Kentucky’s offensive output this season has struggled vastly compared to last year’s team. The Colonels are only averaging 27 points per game, but also have the worst turnover margin in the conference at -7.
Kickoff between the Skyhawks and the Colonels is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday from Hardy M. Graham Stadium.