Spring Game Statistics
MARTIN, Tenn. – The University of Tennessee at Martin football team put a wrap on spring ball with a successful showing at the program’s annual Navy and White Spring Game on Saturday afternoon. Despite a wet and chilly afternoon, the Skyhawks battled back and forth before settling at a 14-14 tie as the final horn sounded.
The Skyhawks prepared for the team’s third and final scrimmage of the practice schedule by conducting a fantasy draft of sorts on Friday afternoon. The squad would be split into two teams with Troy Cook and Kahlid Hagens selecting the Navy team while Kadarren Bond and Jay Murphy served as captains of the White team.
Armed with a full officiating crew and a schedule which featured four 12-minute quarters, both teams had a chance to move the ball all over the field – escaping previous restrictions of prior scrimmages to better emulating a real game. Both teams combined to total approximately 80 plays while playing to an ultimately 14-14 tie.
“It was good competition,” said UT Martin football coach Jason Simpson. “We actually changed it up and let the players draft teams this year. There was a good mixture of 1s and 2s which made it a low scoring game. They were competitive with it and had fun with it. We’re just glad that the weather held off with all of the recruits, families and alums on campus today.”
“This was a good spring and I’m very proud of it,” Simpson continued. “We limited our injuries and I think every player on this football team got better. Our challenge now is to maintain our focus, poise, growth and maturity with grades coming up. If we can stay together, we will compete this fall.”
The Navy team was led by returning quarterback Troy Cook who completed 15-of-27 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns. Legend Brumbaugh also saw action under center for the Navy team, complete 1-of-2 pass attempts for 16 yards. The White squad would feature second-string quarterback Kyle Akin who completed 9-of-17 passes for 124 yards and a touchdown. Clay Beathard also took several snaps, completing five passes for 70 yards and a touchdown.
While both team’s ground attacks combined for just 73 yards, the passing game was in full effect despite the less than ideal playing conditions of rain and high winds. Highlighting the afternoon was Caylon Weathers who exploded for four catches for 93 yards and two touchdowns for the White team. Newcomer La’Darius Galloway also posted a big afternoon, catching five passes for 79 yards while Jaylen Smith and Jaylon Moore also tallied receiving touchdowns for the Navy squad.
On the defensive side of the ball, both teams were able to force a pair of turnovers. For the Navy squad, Kahlid Hagens paced the team with five tackles while joining forces with DJ Simmons and Donald Cofield, Jr. by forcing fumbles. The duo of Julian Thompson-Clay and Mike Turner would get in the action with fumble recoveries each. Simmons also paced the team with 2.5 sacks on the afternoon while Austin Pickett also notched half a sack.
The White squad was led by Garrett Wall who notched a team-high five tackles along with a quarterback hurry. Meanwhile four different Skyhawks from the White team tallied sacks with Joseph Jones, Anthony Brown, JP Fowler and Sean Turner joining in the action. Recording the team’s turnovers were Kevin Prather, Jr. and AJ Daniel who each tallied interceptions.
UT Martin would see its White team jump out to a lead first in the contest as a double reverse led to a flea-flicker pass from Akin to Weathers for a 65-yard touchdown. The Navy squad would answer however in the second quarter as Cook found Jaylon Moore for an eight-yard touchdown to tie the game heading into the break.
The White team would take another lead in the third quarter to take a 14-7 advantage. With a prime scoring drive reaching its end, Beathard would find Weathers for his second touchdown of the day, this one from eight yards out to retake the lead.
The Navy squad would respond in the fourth quarter. Several big completions from Cook would find Tyler Eddings to move the ball into the redzone. With the ball sitting on the 14, Cook would look to the air once again, this time finding Smith in the right corner to tie the contest at 14-each.
Both teams looked for their own respective game-winning drive down the stretch, but the Navy squad would find a big defensive stop in the redzone, resulting in a fumble recovery to give the team a last ditch effort with just under a minute to play. The Navy team would move the ball down the field, crossing midfield but a failed hail mary attempt on the final play would result in a endzone interception by Prather to seal the game’s 14-14 tie.
UT Martin will now turn its focus to the summer offseason months before officially opening the 2017 season on Thursday, Aug. 31 against Clarion University at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.