MARTIN, Tenn. –UT Martin head football coach Jason Simpson said his Skyhawks control their own destiny when they meetin-state rival Tennessee Tech on Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is set for 1:30 p.m. The matchup is part of the Sgt. York Trophy series which is contested between the four OVC football teams in the state of Tennessee.
With two games left at Tennessee Tech and at home against Tennessee State, UT Martin has the inside track on the OVC Championship race; with two wins the Skyhawks will not only win its second OVC title (the team also won in 2006) but will earn the league’s automatic berth into the FCS Playoffs (2006 was its only appearance in the Division I playoffs).
Tennessee Tech, which has been plagued with injuries, is looking to snap a seven-game losing streak. The series is even 3-3 over the last six seasons, with the away team winning each of those six matchups. Last season Tre Lamb found Zach Ziegler for a 14-yard touchdown pass with 1:25 to play to lift the Golden Eagles to a come-from-behind victory. Lamb finished the day with 227 passing yards and two scores as well as 60 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Tevin Barksdale had 87 rushing yards and two touchdowns for the Skyhawks.
After having won four games in a row (and six of its last seven) UT Martin finally cracked the Top 25 polls on Monday, coming in at No. 23 in the Sports Network poll and No. 24 in the FCS Coaches Poll. It marks the first time the Skyhawks have been ranked since Nov. 24, 2008 (when they were 24th in both polls).
In the team’s 49-47 victory over Jacksonville State on Saturday senior quarterback Derek Carr completed 28-of-43 passes for 402 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception. It marked the second time this season Carr has thrown seven touchdown passes (without an interception), making him the only Division I (FBS or FCS) quarterback to achieve that feat this year.
The performance earned him his second National Player of the Week honor of the 2012 season. In the process Carr moved into third place on the OVC career touchdown passing list (62) and fifth on the OVC career passing yards list (7,730). Carr completed 10 of his passes to senior Quentin Sims who racked up 137 receiving yards and five touchdowns; the five touchdowns tied the OVC single-game record for a wide receiver.
Sims now has 22 career receiving touchdowns, just two outside the career Top 10 list; his 72 receptions this season is just one away from the OVC single-season Top 10. Ben Johnson led the UTM defense with a season-high 17 stops; Johnson now ranks fourth nationally in tackles/game (12.22). As a team UT Martin is seventh nationally in turnover margin (+1.0/game).
With Tre Lamb out once again with an injury Tennessee Tech turned to Darian Stone at quarterback and the sophomore completed 22-of-43 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 119 yards on 20 carries (5.9 ypc) to lead the Golden Eagle offense. He became just the second TTU quarterback to rush for 100 or more yards in a game and the first to do so in 21 years. Doug Page added 30 yards and scored both of the team’s rushing touchdowns on the afternoon.
On defense Tech was led by Tra’Darius Goff who had 12 tackles while James Huguely added 11 and Austin Tallant had 10. Saturday’s game marks the final home game of the season for the Golden Eagles, who will play at Austin Peay during the final week of the regular season.