MARTIN, Tenn. – For senior Cody Sandlin it was nothing but repetition and the only field goal he thought he made in a game that started at 6:02 p.m. and ended at 11:47 p.m.
Sandlin, from Goodlettsville, made a 43-yard field goal with four seconds left on the clock to give The University of Tennessee at Martin a 20-17 victory over host Memphis Saturday night at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium.
“I knew it had the distance, and when I saw it go through the uprights I just took off running,” Sandlin said.
For the visiting Skyhawks it was the first victory over Memphis and a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team.
“He made it when it counted,” UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said.
Sandlin was 2-for-4 in field goals in the game. He missed a 28- and a 19-yarder, but made a 26- and the 43-yarder in the fourth quarter.
“I kind of felt I let the team down with the two early mess ups,” Sandlin said. “And then to come back and let the team know I had my confidence.”
UT Martin took a 17-10 lead with 4:52 to go in the game when Sandlin made the 26-yard field goal. Memphis rallied and tied the score at 17-all when Jacob Karam completed a 20-yard pass to Marcus Rucker.
The Skyhawks were forced to punt on the next possession, but senior Nate Rottero recovered a fumble forced by DJ McNeil on the punt and the Skyhawks had the ball on the Memphis 27 yard line with about 12 seconds left in a game that already had a two hour and 40-minute weather delay.
“We got a lot of things we can clean up,” Simpson said. “We had two missed field goals, two interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt. Last year, we would have lost this game by 30-points with that many mistakes.”
After the weather delay, UT Martin marched down field and scored a touchdown to take a 14-10 lead with 4:52 to play.
Senior quarterback Derek Carr called his own number on fourth-and-10 to go and converted for the first down. Carr hit senior tight end Ben Everett and the Skyhawks relied on McNeil to scamper in from five yards out for the go ahead touchdown.
Memphis made the most of the opening minutes of the third quarter and took a 10-7 lead when Paul Henriques made a 33-yard field goal with 9:03 on the clock.
The Skyhawks tied the game in the second half when Carr completed a 9-yard pass to Sims for a score. Sandlin added the PAT and the Skyhawks tied the game at 7-all with 7:02 to play before the half.
Senior Darrin Nalls forced a fumble on the Memphis’ ensuing possession and Wright recovered the fumble. However, the Skyhawks failed to convert as Carr was intercepted for the second time in the game.
In the first quarter the Skyhawks had a chance to claim a quick lead, but missed several opportunities and ended up trailing 7-0. Sandlin who made 14-of-17 field goals and 45-of-48 extra points this past season, missed a 28 yard field goal which would have capped off the Skyhawks opening possession of the game which featured a 52-yard run by McNair.
Wright forced the Tigers to fumble on their first possession of the game, while DJ Roberts recovered the loose ball and gave the Skyhawks a first down on the Memphis 28 yard line. However, the Skyhawks failed to score. The snap on Sandlin’s second field goal attempt of the game, a 20-yarder, was bad and the holder James Satterfield’s pass to tight end Corey Rogers was incomplete.
Memphis set up shop on their own 3 yard line and ,marched 97 yards in 12 plays and 4:51 to claim a 7-0 lead when Jerrell Rhodes scored on a 3-yard run with 5:43 to play in the quarter. Paul Henriques added the PAT and Memphis led 7-0.
The Skyhawks tried to answer the Tigers’ drive but Carr was intercepted. Memphis attempted to convert again, but Henriques’ 36 yard field goal attempt was wide right.
“To find a way to win it gives us some confidence that we can overcome adversity,” Simpson said.
The Skyhawks return to action at 6 p.m., Saturday, Sept 8, when they play at Northern Illinois, another FBS foe.