|Defense makes appearance, but UTM drops OVC opener |
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee at Martin defense is back, at least it appeared to resemble the nationally ranked defense of a year ago during Saturday night’s Ohio Valley Conference opener at Austin Peay.
Seeing Red — Skyhawk junior tight end Linzy Patterson (center) eyes the red paint of the end zone as two Austin Peay defenders try to move in for the tackle. Patterson scored Tennessee-Martin’s first touchdown of the game, hauling in a 4-yard TD pass.
While the defense was present and accounted for, the UT Martin offense checked out at halftime with a 14-3 lead. Once the offense checked out, Austin Peay rallied in the third quarter to claim a 17-14 come-from-behind victory over UT Martin.
Despite staying on the field for almost 20 minutes in the first half, the Skyhawks limited the Govs to 149 total yards. Austin Peay’s Chris Fletcher had 16 carries for 68 yards. Quarterback Mark Cunningham completed 5-of-11 passes for 72 yards, but he was sacked twice.
The Skyhawks scored on their opening possession of the game when Linzy Patterson hauled in a 4-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Dexter Anoka to cap off a 10-play drive that covered 87 yards.
Anoka also connected with Roren Thomas for an 8-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter. Anoka completed 8-of-11 passes for 109 yards and the two touchdowns in the first half. Anoka’s favorite target in the first half was Jamaal Akbar who had four catches for 70 yards.
The Skyhawk defense forced Austin Peay to punt on its first possession of the game. The Govs managed six yards on the drive. The Govs managed to improve on their second drive, but came up short on 4th-and-1 on their own 47-yard line. The Skyhawk defense allowed the Govs to move 68 yards on their third drive and attempt a 20-yard field goal. The attempt was wide right and the Skyhawks were en route to a shutout. The Skyhawk defense prevailed on the Govs’ last possession of the quarter. Austin Peay drove to the UT Martin 17-yard line and quarterback Trent Cafee’s pass to Adrian Mines was incomplete thanks to the defensive pressure of Skyhawk Josh Bey. The Skyhawks got the ball back once again on downs.
Austin Peay’s Isaac Ziolkowski made a 43-yard field goal with 2:56 to play in the first half and spoiled the Skyhawks’ shutout.
The Skyhawk defense opened the second half with a vengeance. Defensive end Craig Worthen forced Austin Peay’s Chris Fletcher to fumble on 2nd-and-9. Dante Harrold recovered the loose ball for the Skyhawks.
The Skyhawks failed to convert on the turnover. Austin Peay’s defense hurried Anoka twice on passing attempts and the Skyhawks were forced to punt. The Govs set up shop on their own 36-yard line after an Adam Ivey punt. The Govs scored six plays later when Mark Cunningham hit Mines with a 21-yard touchdown pass.
The Skyhawks were forced to punt on their next possession and Austin Peay took the lead, 17-14, with Cunningham’s 1-yard touchdown run with 36 seconds left in the third quarter.
Austin Peay had the ball for 10:15 in the third quarter, while UT Martin managed 31 yards of total offense in 4:50.
In the fourth quarter, the Skyhawks had numerous chances to move down the field, but ran into problems on each drive. A 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty killed the first Skyhawk drive in the fourth quarter.
Cade Thompson replaced Anoka at quarterback and moved the Skyhawks into Austin Peay territory, but the drive was stalled after an incomplete pass to EJ Daniel and a 3-yard loss by freshman Trace McDermott.
The Skyhawk defense did its job and got the ball back with 5:25 to play in the game. Anoka replaced Thompson at quarterback, but an incomplete pass on 3rd-and-6 at the Austin Peay 37-yard line forced the Skyhawks to go for it on fourth down. Anoka’s pass was dropped by Roren Thomas.
The Skyhawks got the ball back with 1:31 to play in the game and immediately marched down the field. A 15-yard personal foul penalty against Austin Peay and an 18-yard Anoka to LeRon Johnson completion put the Skyhawks near midfield. Anoka picked up five yards on a first-down play. On 2nd-and-5 from the UT Martin 45-yard line, Anoka went to the air again. His pass was intercepted by Austin Peay’s Kelvin Young with 53 seconds to play.
Austin Peay managed to run out the clock and seal their first OVC victory since 1996.
Weakley County Press Sept. 25, 2007