No. 24 UT MARTIN SET TO HOST No. 20 RANKED TENNESSEE STATE ON FAMILY WEEKEND
September 18, 2017
UT Martin Family Weekend
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The No. 24 ranked University of Tennessee at Martin football team will shift its focus to Ohio Valley Conference with the league opener against No. 20 ranked Tennessee State on Saturday, Sept. 23. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. as part of UT Martin Family Weekend with fans encouraged to wear blue and will be featured as the OVC Football Game of the Week on ESPN3.
All students are encouraged to invite their family to join the Skyhawks on campus with a number of activities. Family Weekend kicks off with a 5k/Mile Walk hosted by Chancellor Carver followed by the tailgate party from noon til 3 p.m. at the football stadium. Additionally, the first 500 students who enter the gates will receive a free Skyhawk t-shirt. A full fireworks display will be seen after the contest's conclusion. As a special promotion, fans can purchase a Family Weekend package which includes a UT Martin t-shirt, a ticket to the football game and a meal at the pregame tailgate party for just $25 per person. Register your family at www.utm.edu/familyweekend.
Saturday's game marks the first of three games in the coveted Sergeant York Trophy series which goes to the winner of the quadrangular season football series between the four Ohio Valley Conference football-playing schools located in the state of Tennessee - Austin Peay, Tennessee State, Tennessee Tech and UT Martin. UT Martin has won and retained the Sgt. York Trophy for three consecutive years while holding a 21-9 all-time record in the series - the best mark among the four schools. Additionally, the Skyhawks are 14-2 against in-state foes since 2013.
The Skyhawks (2-1, 0-0 OVC) enter the contest ranked 24th nationally in the STATS FCS Poll for the first time since 2013 following a decisive 21-7 road victory at No. 15 Chattanooga their last time out. In the game, UT Martin's defense posted a strong outing, allowing just 150 yards of total offense and six rushing yards - the fewest allowed to a Division I opponent since 2011. Included in the defensive showing was a season-high five sacks - ranking as the most since 2015 - while forcing a pair of turnovers. Offensively, the Skyhawks controlled the time of possession while scoring three touchdowns.
UT Martin saw two of its players earn adidas OVC Player of the Week honors as quarterback Troy Cook was named Co-Offensive player while defensive end Anthony Brown was tabbed Defensive Player of the Week. Cook completed 16-of-21 pass attempts for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Brown paced the squad with two sacks while forcing a fumble which set up a key touchdown in the third quarter.
Saturday's contest pairs two of the league's veteran coaches against each other in UT Martin's Jason Simpson and Tennessee State's Rod Reed. Simpson ranks as the league's longest tenured head coach in his 12th season with an overall record of 74-55 (57-32 OVC) while ranking as the OVC's seventh winningest coach in history. Meanwhile, Reed has posted a 46-37 overall record in his eight seasons while notching a 22-30 record in league play.
Tennessee State (3-0, 0-0 OVC) enters the contest undefeated and ranked No. 20 in both the STATS FCS Poll and FCS Coaches Poll. The Tigers are looking to build upon their three game winning streak which has featured wins over FBS foe Georgia State along with traditional opponents Jackson State and Florida A&M. Serving as a defensive juggernaut, TSU leads the league in scoring defense (12.7 ppg), total defense (279.3 ypg) and pass defense (159.7 ypg).
The Tigers are led by former Florida transfer quarterback Treon Harris who is coming off a OVC Newcomer of the Week honor after completing 14-of-18 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns against Florida A&M. Harris currently ranks 14th nationally in rushing yards/carry (7.3), 23rd in passing yards/completion (14.0) and 31st in total rushing yards (219). Wide receivers Patrick Smith (14 catches, 156 yards, one touchdown) and Steven Newbold (eight catches, 162 yards, one touchdown) also provide dangerous threats on offense.
This game marks the 26th matchup between the two in-state rivals with Tennessee State holding a 16-10 series advantage. UT Martin has won six of the last nine showdowns against the Tigers despite dropping the team's last meeting on Oct. 1, 2016 following a touchdown by Smith with 18 seconds to play, lifting the home squad to a 34-30 victory.
The game will be streamed live, free of charge, courtesy of the OVC Digital Network at the link above. Fans can also tune into Mix 101.3 FM to hear Tom Britt (play-by-play), Chris Brinkley (color) and John Abel (sideline) provide analysis. WUTM, UT Martin's award-winning student radio station, will also broadcast the game locally on 90.3 FM. Links for both radio broadcasts, along with live stats can be accessed through their respective links above. For in-game updates, follow the Skyhawks on twitter @UTM_Gameday.
Purchase your tickets to Saturday afternoon's game and all season long with season ticket packages by calling the UT Martin Ticket Office at 731-881-7207. The Skyhawk Ticket Office accepts payment via cash or check along with Visa, Mastercard and Discover credit cards. A $10 processing fee is added to all ticket orders. All tickets on game day must be purchase via cash only.
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