MARTIN, TN. — In a contest highlighted by big defensive plays, two huge defensive stands by Tennessee-Martin and four penalties in the last seven minutes of the game by Eastern Kentucky propelled the UT Martin Skyhawks to a 10-7 victory over EKU before a Homecoming crowd of 5,330 at UTM’s Graham Stadium.
Following a 44-yard punt by the Skyhawks’ Joe Hook that rolled dead on the Eastern four-yard line with 11:36 to go in the game, Eastern lost one yard in its next three plays, forcing the Colonels’ Jordan Berry to punt from his end zone.
After Berry’s 37-yard punt took the ball to the Eastern 43-yard line, Skyhawk quarterback Derek Carr found senior Daniel Chamberlain down the right sideline for a 28-yard touchdown that gave UT Martin its first lead of the game at 10-7.
Junior kick returner Jeremy Ta’Ta’ Caldwell did his best to get EKU back in the game when he returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to the Skyhawk 26-yard line with 4:57 left. However, after moving the ball to the UT Martin 17-yard line, Eastern had a false start, a minus eight-yard rushing attempt on an end around by Orlandus Harris and two straight losses by quarterback T.J. Pryor on a rush and a sack which put the ball on the Skyhawk 35-yard line.
Eastern kicker Logan O’Connor’s 53-yard field goal was short and the Skyhawks took over the ball and ran the last 2:11 off the clock.
EKU was first on the scoreboard, going 65 yards in 15 plays in the second quarter as Pryor took it in for one yard to put Eastern up 7-0 with 14:57 left before half. A 29-yard field goal by the Skyhawks’ Cody Sandlin with 11:42 left in the second stanza was the only scoring play in the game.
UT Martin kept Pryor in check for the contest, as the sophomore was able hit just 4-10 passes for 33 yards. Freshman Jacob Russell, who had spot duty, was 6-9 for 70 yards through the air. Junior H.B. Banjoman led Colonel rushers with 70 yards in 15 carries.
Carr was 15-25 passing for UT Martin for 290 yards. Stephen Shiver had six catches for 93 yards. Sophomore tailback Tevin Barksdale led Skyhawk rushers with 50 yards on nine carries.
On defense, cornerbacks Jaren Gooden and Caldwell had fumble recoveries for the Colonels, while senior defensive tackle Andrew Soucy had two sacks and caused a fumble.
The Skyhawk win was the first in the series for UT Martin in this, the 21st game of the series. EKU falls to 2-4 on the year, 1-1 in the Ohio Valley Conference, while UTM goes to 3-4 and 3-2 in the conference.
Eastern travels to Southeast Missouri next Saturday for a 2:00 p.m. contest. UT Martin hosts Lambuth Thursday night.