Boxscore PDF (Photos by Phil Blakley)
OXFORD, Miss. – The University of Tennessee at Martin football team jumped out to an early lead over Southeastern Conference foe Ole Miss on Saturday, leading by as much as nine points in the second quarter before ultimately becoming overmatched in the second half en route to a 45-23 setback.
The Skyhawks (1-1) managed 334 yards of total offense against the stingy SEC foe, including 253 yards on the ground while managing 14 first downs. UT Martin would score first in the contest, marking the quickest touchdown strike against a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent since Nov. 8, 2008 against fellow SEC West member Auburn.
Needing a big spark to pull off a potential upset, the Skyhawks saw junior running back Ladarius Galloway notch yet another strong performance. After tallying 157 yards rushing against Clarion the week before, Galloway improved upon that mark by garnering 24 carries for 188 yards and a touchdown. With the strong afternoon, Galloway became the first Skyhawk to tally consecutive 150-yard rushing performances since UT Martin Hall of Famer Don Chapman accomplished the feat in a record-setting 2006 campaign.
Normally known for his strong arm, senior quarterback Troy Cook proved multi-dimensional in key situations. While completing 9-of-15 pass attempts for 92 yards on a run-friendly afternoon, Cook added a rushing touchdown to the team’s total while senior tailback Marquez Grayson also joined in the action with a mirror two-yard scamper to the left.
UT Martin’s defense saw a streak of 14 consecutive games with fewer than 300 yards of passing offense allowed - dating back to Nov. 7, 2015 against Eastern Kentucky - come to a halt on Saturday as Ole Miss tallied 489 yards through the air. Stealing the show was Shea Patterson who completed 32-of-43 passes for a school-record 489 yards and five touchdowns. The receiving duo of AJ Brown (156 yards) and DaMarkus Lodge (133 yards) would combined for three touchdowns.
Despite the rough statistical afternoon, the Skyhawks were led defensively by senior safety Kahlid Hagens with 10 tackles – the fifth double-figure tackle performance of his career. Meanwhile fellow safety Tae Martin ranked second with six tackles, including the team’s lone interception – his second of the season.
“I’m proud of our kids and players, I thought they played hard,” said UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson. “Why did we lose? Penalties and turnovers. Give them credit, they have an outstanding quarterback. We knew coming into the game, we had to slow it down, have long huddles and let the clock run. That’s not our total offense, but I think that is what we had to do in order to give our players the best shot at winning this game.”
UT Martin will return to action with a trek across the Volunteer State to take on nationally ranked Chattanooga on Saturday, Sept. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. CST from Finley Stadium.