The University of Tennessee at Martin football team will open the regular season on Thursday, Aug. 31 when the Skyhawks play host to Division II foe Clarion University. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. from Hardy M. Graham Stadium. Fans are encouraged to wear orange.
UT Martin produced yet another top finish in the Ohio Valley Conference in 2016 after posting a 7-5 overall record and 6-2 mark in OVC play to finish second in the league standings – despite playing three FBS opponents. It marked the fourth time in program history that the Skyhawks finished in top two in the league standings. As a squad, the Skyhawks ranked first or second in 18 different statistical categories in league play including scoring offense (32.3 ppg, 2nd), scoring defense (24.0 ppg, 2nd), total defense (322.4 ypg, 2nd), rushing defense (128.3 ypg, 2nd) and pass defense (194.1 ypg, 2nd).
The Skyhawks enter the contest highly decorated with preseason accolades as Robert Burleigh (Lindy’s Sports and College Sports Madness), Kahlid Hagens (STATS) and Londell Lee (STATS) were each tabbed to preseason All-American squads. The trio were joined in honors by Troy Cook, Jaimiee Bowe, Kadarren Bond, Tae Martin, Donald Cofield, Jr., Joseph Este, Caylon Weathers and Jay Murphy as all-conference picks by various organizations.
Returning for his 12th season at the helm of the Skyhawks, UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson has an overall record of 72-54. Simpson currently ranks as the OVC’s eighth winningest coach in league history with 72 career victories while his next victory will move him into a tie for seventh place with former Jacksonville State head coach Jack Crowe.
Thursday’s game serves as the 2017 regular season opener for both teams. UT Martin is 50-34-3 all-time in home openers and are 10-1 in such games under head coach Jason Simpson. In fact, UT Martin is averaging 48.2 points per game in its home openers under Simpson. In total, the Skyhawks have won nine straight home openers – the longest such streak in school history – and have won 13 of the last 15 home openers since 2002.
The matchup marks the 10th time that the Skyhawks will square off against a non-Division-I team in head coach Jason Simpson’s tenure. UT Martin has gone 9-0 in that span and has averaged 62.3 points per game while producing four shutouts in those games.
Clarion enters the contest off a 4-7 campaign in the under head coach Chris Weibel. The Golden Eagles will be led by USF transfer quarterback Asiantii Woulard under center as he looks to improve a team which averaged 24.1 points and 359.3 yards per game a season ago. The defense is anchored by returning leader Layne Skundrich who paced the squad with 85 tackles – including 2.5 tackles for loss – and two quarterback hurries.
This will be the first matchup between the two programs in series history.
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 Thursday night’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.