November 4, 2013

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MARTIN, Tenn. - The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will step out of conference play on Saturday, Nov. 9 when it takes on in-state Football Bowl Subdivision rival Memphis at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

This game serves as a rematch of the 2012 season opener for both teams, a 20-17 UT Martin victory on Sept. 1. In that game, the two teams had to weather a lightning delay midway through the third quarter for two hours and 40 minutes. After play resumed, the Skyhawks took their first lead of the game at 14-10 and held on for the win when Cody Sandlin boomed a 43-yard field goal through the uprights with four seconds left. Offensively, UT Martin outgained Memphis by a 412-364 margin while the Skyhawk defense forced five turnovers.

Memphis leads the all-time series by an 8-4-1 margin, with the Tigers holding a 5-2 edge in games played in Memphis. This will be the third meeting between the two squads in the last five years, as Skyhawk head coach Jason Simpson is 1-1 against the Tigers. UT Martin claimed its first-ever victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent with its 20-17 victory last season while Memphis picked up a 41-14 victory over the Skyhawks in 2009.

This game functions as a homecoming of sorts for several UT Martin players. A total of 10 Skyhawks (Kevin Barfield, Tony Bell, Walter Evans, Fred Flenorl, Matt Murphy, Devin Nugent, James Ratliff, Will Singleton, Will Whitley, Rod Wright) hail from Memphis while Roland Genesy (Millington), DJ McNeil (Collierville), Drew Thomas (Lakeland) and Caylon Weathers (Germantown) all grew up less than 30 miles away.

UT Martin (6-3) compiled a new season-high in points for the second straight week in a 45-17 victory over Murray State last Saturday. The Skyhawks trailed 14-0 after the first quarter but UT Martin outscored the Racers 45-3 over the final three quarters of play. Quarterback Jarod Neal accounted for four touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) while OVC rushing leader McNeil (28 carries, 111 yards) and Jeremy Butler (nine receptions, 133 yards) each had multi-touchdown games. Defensively, Tony Bell (4.5 sacks, career-high 16 tackles) and Thad Williams (two interceptions) paced the Skyhawks, who held Murray State to 284 yards of total offense.

Memphis (1-6) is coming off a 34-21 home loss to Cincinnati on Oct. 30. In that game, the Tigers led 7-0 after the first quarter before Cincinnati scored 21 unanswered points. Memphis was able to battle back to get within six points with 5:27 to go in the game but the Bearcats tacked on a late touchdown to provide the final scoring margin. Brandon Hayes had a game-high 76 yards rushing to go along with a touchdown while Paxton Lynch threw for 140 yards and a pair of scores for the Tigers.

The game can be seen live on ESPN3 at the link above. Tom Britt (play-by-play), Chris Brinkley (color) and John Abel (sidelines) will call all the action live on WCMT 101.3 FM. Live stats will be available by clicking the link at the top of the page.

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