CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – For the first time since the 2004 season, the University of Tennessee at Martin football team was shutout in an Ohio Valley Conference game at the hands of an upstart Austin Peay squad 7-0 at Fortera Stadium.
The Skyhawks (3-2, 1-1 OVC) dropped its first conference game of the season after winning a pair of contests against ranked opponents. UT Martin was shutout for the first time since Nov. 13, 2004 in an OVC affair and it was the first overall shutout for the Skyhawks overall since 2010 against Tennessee.
Squared off in an impressive defensive matchup, Austin Peay would force UT Martin into three turnovers, winning the turnover battle 3-to-1. While the offense struggled to put points on the board while tallying 291 yards of total offense, the Skyhawk defense was dominant. Paired off against the league’s top scoring offense in Austin Peay which entered the contest averaging 30.0 points per game and a league-leading 410.8 yards of total offense, the Skyhawks limited the Govs to a season-low seven points and just 261 yards of offense.
“First of all, congratulations to Austin Peay – they played outstanding,” UT Martin head coach Jason Simpson said. “I’m very proud of our defense and our defensive staff. Our defensive players played outstanding – if you give up seven points, you have to win the football game. I’m the offensive coordinator and myself, the offensive staff and offensive players didn’t get it done. We turned the ball over, had a couple of penalties here and there and we didn’t make any plays. That’s on us. We have to get that corrected.”
Ladarius Galloway (18 carries) and Ty Brown (17 carries) shared rushing duties this evening, each tallying 69 yards on the ground. Caylon Weathers posted game-highs in receptions (five) and receiving yards (50) while Troy Cook was 10-of-31 for 126 yards and two interceptions.
Garrett Wall set a new career-high with 10 tackles this evening, including the lone sack for the Skyhawks. James Gilleylen corralled eight tackles while Kahlid Hagens added seven tackles and a key interception in the Austin Peay redzone in the fourth quarter.
On the first play of the game, Cook connected with Weathers for a 22-yard pass but that was one of the few UT Martin offensive highlights.
The Skyhawk defense held Austin Peay scoreless through the first quarter until the Governors scored on a 22-yard rushing touchdown at the 13:16 mark of the first quarter.
Another UT Martin defensive stand followed and it looked like the Skyhawk had the momentum after a 25-yard pass from Cook to Galloway and a 39-yard strike from Cook to Jaylon Moore on the ensuing possession. However, the UT Martin drive stalled after an interception on the Austin Peay 10-yard line.
The Skyhawk defense posted another three-and-out to end the first half as the Governors managed only 109 yards of total offense over the first 30 minutes.
UT Martin pushed Austin Peay to minus-2 yards on another three-and-out to start the second half. The Skyhawk defense then held after the Governors missed a 35-yard field goal wide right at the 7:55 mark of the third quarter.
Hagens came up with a huge pick on Austin Peay’s opening drive of the fourth quarter, securing his first interception of the season and fifth of his career.
Cook found Galloway for a big 30-yard pass on the second play of the ensuing drive but the promising drive was ended after a fumble and Governor recovery.
Another UT Martin defensive stop followed as the Skyhawks took over at their own 2-yard line with 7:49 to go. Londell Lee scampered for a 36-yard rush to put the ball in Austin Peay territory but a 10-yard loss on a sack was followed by three straight incomplete passes.
After the UT Martin defense forced one final punt, the Skyhawks had four consecutive incomplete passes from their own 27-yard line.
UT Martin will look to rebound next Saturday, Oct. 7 as it hosts Murray State on Homecoming. Kickoff from Hardy Graham Stadium is set for 2 p.m.