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Young balances Skyhawk account

Young balances Skyhawk account
Brandyn Young felt personally responsible for UT Martin’s 30-27 overtime loss to Tennessee State last Saturday.
Thursday night against Eastern Illinois, he more than made up for it.
Young rushed for 213 yards and all four Skyhawk touchdowns as UTM remained in the hunt for the Ohio Valley Conference championship with a 29-26 victory over EIU.
Young’s output represented just the ninth 200-yard rushing performance in Tennessee-Martin history. Equally as important personally to him, it took most of the sting out of a lost fumble he had as part of the Skyhawks’ four-turnover collapse against TSU that cost UT Martin a win six days earlier.
“This was very important to me, because I felt like last week’s loss was on me because of the turnover I had,” Young said after Thursday’s sterling performance. “I really felt like I had to come back and prove myself to both my teammates and my coaches.”
That the 5-9, 205-pound junior from Stone Mountain, Ga., did, according to UTM head coach Jason Simpson.
“B.Y. made a believer out of me,” claimed Simpson, who saw his club bounce back from Saturday’s gut-wrenching loss to improve to 3-1 in the OVC and 5-2 in all games. “He’s really a jack-of-all-trades type of back, and he was tremendous running the football for us tonight.”
Young’s TD runs covered 3, 94, 8 and 15 yards, the last two of those coming in the fourth quarter to help the Skyhawks fully climb out of a 16-7 halftime hole. His 94-yard dash on UTM’s only offensive snap of the first 13 minutes of the third quarter, was the longest run from scrimmage in school history in more than 10 years.
“I just knew we needed a play, and I knew I needed to make one too,” Young said of his sprint that started wide right, but included a cutback to the EIU left sideline.
Young’s final two scores were set up by big-gainers on end-around plays by Roren Thomas that covered 26 and 37 yards, respectively.
The Panthers (2-4, 0-2) cut UTM’s 29-19 lead with 9:02 left to a field goal on one play following Young’s last TD when Bodie Reeder threw the last of his three touchdown passes — a 58-yarder to Charles Graves.
Eastern Illinois got one final chance to either force overtime or win, but Dante Harrold intercepted a Reeder pass that went off the hands of Graves at the UT Martin 39 with 2:42 to play.
Simpson said the quick turnaround of playing two games against quality competition in less than a week was a difficult, yet ultimately, rewarding one.
“We told our kids all week long that it was good for us to get back on the field after such a tough loss last Saturday, but they were physically and emotionally drained, I thought,” the coach claimed. “We had a couple of defensive linemen stand up at halftime and challenge the team, and no doubt we responded.
“The big thing is that it keeps us right in the middle of the conference race. We control our own destiny. I don’t believe anybody’s going to go through this league with a zero in the loss column.”
Tyler Wilke kicked a pair of field goals (22 and 41 yards) to help the Panthers take a lead into the fourth quarter and score 16 straight points after UTM had hit paydirt on its opening drive.
Wilke, however, missed the extra point following Reeder’s 17-yard touchdown pass to Lorence Ricks with 2:51 left before halftime — ending his personal streak of 51 consecutive made PATs.
Reeder ended up completing 24-of-31 passes for 284 yards with Walker (7 catches, 109 yards) his favorite target.
Linebacker Josh Bey paced the Skyhawk defense with eight total tackles, while Brent Acker was credited with seven-and-a-half and former Westview High School standout Markei Guy had seven stops.
UTM’s next game will be at Tennessee Tech next Thursday.
Sports editor Mike Hutchens can be contacted by e-mail at mhutch@ucmessenger.com.

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