MARTIN, Tenn. –A week after knocking off the first Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) opponent in its program history, UT Martin plays its second-straight FBS foe, this week traveling to DeKalb, Ill. to play Northern Illinois. The matchup is the first between the two teams.
After previously being 0-13 against teams from the FBS, UT Martin finally notched a victory, topping Memphis 20-17 at the Liberty Bowl on Saturday night. The game marked the first loss for Memphis against a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent in 23 years.
Memphis had a 10-7 lead in the third quarter before DJ McNeil scored from five yards out to put the Skyhawks on top 14-10. Senior kicker Cody Sandlin, who had missed his first two field goal attempts of the night, added a 26-yard field goal with 4:52 to play to extend the lead to 17-10. But the Tigers marched 71 yards in 11 plays and capped a scoring drive with a 20-yard pass from Jacob Karam to Marcus Rucker to tie the game. The Skyhawks went 3-and out and punted, but Memphis fumbled the punt return which was recovered by Nate Rottero at the Tiger 27-yard line. Three plays later Sandlin connected from 43-yards out to give UT Martin the victory.
The two clutch fourth quarter field goals earned Sandlin OVC Specialist of the Week honors. Skyhawk quarterback Derek Carr completed 19-of-38 passes for 211 yards and a touchdown to Quentin Sims (who had eight catches for 70 yards on the night).
Senior Jason McNair added 82 yards on the ground while Tevin Barksdale ran for 50 yards and McNeil had 42 on the ground. The UTM offense did not allow a sack during the game while the UTM defense notched a pair of sacks and 8.0 tackles-for-loss. DJ Roberts, Ben Johnson and Chris Wright each recorded nine tackles to lead the defense. The game included a 2: 45 weather delay; the game began at 6:02 p.m. but did not conclude until 11:47 p.m.
It marked the first season-opening road victory for UT Martin since the 1994 season (a win at Southern Illinois).
Entering its second season under head coach Dave Doeren, Northern Illinois is coming off an 11-3 season in 2011 that saw the team top Arkansas State 38-20 in the GoDaddy.com Bowl. The team returns 18 starters (including 10 on defense) this season. NIU opened the 2012 campaign by battling Iowa in a game played in front of 52,117 fans at Soldier Field in Chicago (the second year in a row NIU played a home game at the NFL venue).
The Huskies built a 17-9 advantage with 9:43 to play in the third quarter before Iowa scored nine fourth quarter points to pull out the 18-17 victory; the last score came on a 23-yard rush with 2:15 to play in the game. Making his first career start quarterback Jordan Lynch had 119 rushing yards on 18 carries and passed for 54 yards.
The NIU defense recorded six total sacks on the night and limited Iowa to 268 yards; a season ago the Huskies held only one opponent to under 268 yards of total offense. It marked the end of the team’s nine-game winning streak dating back to last season; it had been the longest winning streak in the FBS entering the season.