August 16, 2014

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MARTIN, Tenn. – A week after the defensive unit for the University of Tennessee at Martin football squad held the offensive unit to just three touchdowns, the Skyhawk offense used a number of big plays to score six touchdowns in tonight’s intersquad scrimmage.

Today’s practice was the 15th of the preseason for the Skyhawks and the second of four scheduled scrimmages before opening the season against the University of Kentucky on Aug. 30. Much like the week before, practice began with stretches and positional drills before transitioning into the scrimmage portion of the schedule.

The scrimmage consisted of 105 plays from several locations on the field, tailoring to all three facets of the game – offense, defense and special teams. The offensive unit put together several solid drives, tallying 495 yards of total offense while registering six touchdowns on the evening. While the offensive numbers stick out, the defensive core forced two interceptions along with a forced fumble, a blocked field goal and six sacks.

“I’m pleased with where we are,” said UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson. “I told the team that starting on Monday, the guys that can execute with consistency will be the guys that run with the first team. No player can hold a coach hostage just because they’ve been there before because we have seen some sophomores and juniors begin to take some seniors’ jobs. It’s good to have that depth, but we have to find out who our guys are.”

“There were some things that we have to clean up, but you saw the offense capitalize on big plays and grab some big chunks of yardage,” said Simpson. “We have a chance to be explosive, we just have to find that consistency.”

The Skyhawks offense was under the primary direction of quarterbacks Jarod Neal and Dylan Favre. Neal made half of the combined pass attempts out of the pocket, going 14-of-24 with 112 yards and two touchdowns. Favre found some big plays of his own, converting on 11-of-19 pass attempts for 136 yards and one touchdown.

Local area product, Ladevin Fair led the ground attack with nine carries, tallying 73 yards and one touchdown. Veterans Abou Toure and Trent Garland each tallied 38 yards and one touchdown on 14 combined carries while Reuben Duckworth, Najee Ray and Jordan Brown also saw action in the rushing attack.

Eight players registered multi-reception evenings for the Skyhawks, led by the play of senior Corey Jordan with seven receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown. Ben Axline made the most of his receptions, notching three catches for 49 yards and one touchdown while Kyle Kerrick registered a touchdown of his own on the night after tallying four catches for 47 yards.

The defensive unit tallied 80 tackles on the evening, led by the play of Taino Fears-Perez who registered six tackles. Devontay Barnett joined in the action with five tackles while Garrett Wall, James Gilleyien, Nick Brown, Keith Jones and Garrett Vincent each tallied one sack. Jordan Landry and Kevin Reid joined in the action with an interception on the night.

The Skyhawk offense tallied 21 first downs on the evening but didn’t get on the board until the eighth drive of the scrimmage. Beginning the drive on their own 30, Neal led a 10-play, 70 yard scoring drive which resulted with a two-yard touchdown by Toure. Neal connected with Axline for an 11-yard reception before the three-headed combination of Ray, Garland and Toure combined to rush for 51 yards into the endzone.

The next scoring drive saw Favre under center as he directed the Skyhawks down the field for a touchdown following an 11-play, 70 yard sequence of plays. Favre would connect of 5-of-6 pass attempts during the drive, racking up 64 yards in the process before finding Jordan for a 15-yard touchdown.

Neal would not be outdone, putting together a 5-play, 40-yard scoring drive into motion. Neal would connect on all three passing attempts finding Tanner on consecutive attempts for 27 yards before sailing a missile to Axline for a nine-yard touchdown strike.

The defense would come up strong over the following three drives, forcing the Skyhawk offense into three field goal attempts. The defensive unit would make a stand, blocking a 27-yard field goal attempt before watching as the next two attempts from 54 and 35 yards fell short of the uprights.

In the final plays of the scrimmage, the offense made the most of their short field opportunities. The Skyhawks would begin consecutive drives on the opponent’s 25-yard line, resulting in a 21-yard touchdown connection between Neal and Kerrick before Fair would open the ensuing drive with a 25-yard scamper of his own before diving into the endzone. Garland would tally the third touchdown in as many plays just moments later as he made the most of the goal line situation with a two-yard rushing touchdown to end the evening’s scoring drives.

The Skyhawks will return to the practice field after a scheduled day off on Monday, Aug. 18. They will hold their third scrimmage of the preseason just days later on Wednesday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m.

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