Skyhawks still in hunt for conference title

The Skyhawk football team is literally in a winner-take-all situation with two games remaining on the 2016 schedule.

If the Skyhawks (6-4, 5-1 OVC) defeat Southeast Missouri State on Saturday and Jacksonville State next week, the Skyhawks will host the Ohio Valley Conference title for the second time in program history and the first time since 2006.

The Skyhawks already have a couple of convincing wins over Eastern Kentucky two weeks ago (33-3) and No. 24 Eastern Illinois last week (33-17).  Now the Skyhawks will focus on a very tough SEMO squad.

The Redhawks (3-6, 3-3 OVC) will look to return to their winning ways on Saturday after they dropped three of their last four games including a 17-10 loss to No. 2 Jacksonville State last week.

On paper, UTM has a slight advantage over SEMO, especially on offense, where the Skyhawks are averaging 35 points per game and 392 yards of total offense. The Redhawks this season are averaging 360 yards of total offense and 21 points per game.

Defensively, both the Redhawks and the Skyhawks rank toward the top of the conference in several defensive categories. The Skyhawks are ranked third in the OVC in scoring defense (24.5 points per game) and second in total defense (323 yards per game) while the Redhawks rank second in the conference in scoring defense (23.6 points per game) and third in total defense (382.7 yards per game).

The Skyhawks might hold a slight edge over SEMO going into Saturday’s game, but previous meetings between these two teams have usually come down to one last play or mistake. Two years ago, SEMO pulled a big 31-27 upset win over UTM after they scored a game-winning touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Last year, the Skyhawks barely edged out a 28-25 win over the Redhawks after SEMO missed a potential game-tying 42-yard field goal with 48 seconds remaining.

Kickoff between the Skyhawks and the Redhawks is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 12, at Hardy M. Graham Stadium. A special senior day ceremony will take place before the game.

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