The Skyhawk football team had to battle rainy conditions Saturday night, but picked up their first Ohio Valley Conference win over the Tennessee Tech Golden Eagles 31-17.
With the win, the Skyhawks (2-2, 1-1 OVC) also took the early lead in the Sgt. York Trophy series, which is given to the best overall OVC school in the state of Tennessee.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” said UTM head coach Jason Simpson, who is now tied with former Murray State head coach Bill Furgerson for ninth on the OVC all-time wins leaderboard. “Anytime you can go on the road and get a two-touchdown win, you’re proud of that.”
UTM had no problems passing the ball in the wet and cold conditions. Quarterback Jarod Neal went 25 of 43 passing for 248 yards and four touchdowns. Receivers Rod Wright and William Tanner were his biggest targets in the game. Wright had nine receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns and Tanner had seven receptions for 63 yards and two touchdowns.
Ladevin Fair and Trent Garland led the UTM rushing attack, combining for 32 carries and 192 rushing yards.
The Skyhawk defense also had a big game, tallying eight sacks, which ties the most sacks in a single game by an FCS team this season, joining Montana, New Hamspire and Alcorn State (twice).
Tennessee Tech was led by their quarterback Jared Davis. Davis went 8 for 34 passing for 76 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. Brock McCoin was the leading receiver for Tennessee Tech, recording six receptions for 69 yards.
Running back Ladari Vanlier was the leading rusher for the Golden Eagles, recording nine carries for 120 yards.
Rain pounded the Cookville, Tennessee area and Tucker Stadium for most of the game, but that did not stop the Skyhawks.
UTM marched down the field and took the lead on their first drive when Neal connected with Wright for an 8-yard touchdown pass. After a quick three-and-out by Tennessee Tech, the Skyhawks answered again on their next drive with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Tanner.
Tennessee Tech would answer back late in the first quarter with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Davis to McCoin. Davis would again hook up with McCoin for a 8-yard touchdown pass, making the score 14-14 at the end of the first quarter.
Both team’s pace would slow down the rest of the game while the rain began to pick up. Early in the second quarter, UTM tacked on another touchdown, this time a 22-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Tanner. TTU could not respond before the end of the half and UTM took a 21-14 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Tennessee Tech scored on their first drive of the second half with a 32-yard field goal from kicker John Arnold. UTM would respond late in the third quarter with a 12-yard touchdown pass from Neal to Wright, making it an 11-point Skyhawk lead.
The Skyhawks scored again in the fourth quarter with a 34-yard field goal from Jackson Redditt. Tennessee Tech failed to respond and were shutout for the remainer of the second half. The Skyhawks eventually drained the clock and secured their 31-17 win over the Golden Eagles.
UTM will face Tennessee State for Homecoming next Saturday, Oct. 10. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. from Graham Stadium and pregame festivities like Quad City will take place the morning before kickoff.