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UTM defense does bang-up job

UTM defense does bang-up job
UTM defense does bang-up job
UT Martin opened the 2009 season with a bang.
The Skyhawks drubbed Iowa Wesleyan 56-0 on Thursday night at Hardy M. Graham Stadium.
Much of UTM’s success in its first game of the season was due to a stifling and consistent defense.
Iowa Wesleyan managed just 74 yards of total offense and three first downs. The Skyhawks recorded 11 tackles for lost yardage and two sacks.
The shutout was the third in 16 years for the Skyhawks. All three shutouts have been in the last four years under the direction of head coach Jason Simpson.
“We only return three defensive starters, but they play with emotion and passion,” Simpson said.
Junior Josh Bey led the UT Martin defense with eight total tackles with 11/2 sacks and two stops for a loss.
Iowa Wesleyan picked up most of its offensive yardage on two fake punts in the first half. Josh Feliciano picked up 15 yards on the first fake, while Zach Ray gained 19 yards on the second fake.
Despite the stellar defense and the explosive offensive outburst, Simpson was not pleased with his team’s overall effort.
The Skyhawks turned the football over three times — two fumbles and an interception. The Skyhawks also struggled on offense in the first quarter.
“We have to coach better and we have to play better,” Simpson said. “I expect to see a better football team next Saturday.”
Senior tailback Miguel Barnes led the Skyhawks offense with three touchdowns and 115 yards on 12 carries.
“Miguel had a great fall camp and that’s why he is a starter,” Simpson said. “I am proud of what his senior year has a chance to be.”
Barnes was just two yards shy of tying his career-best 117 yards. The Millington native tied a career-high with three TDs.
“I think the difference is I have matured a lot since last summer,” Barnes said.
Seniors Mike Hicks and quarterback Cade Thompson also turned in big numbers in their ’09 debut. Hicks caught five passes for 108 yards and a 65-yard touchdown.
Thompson was 21-of-34 with an interception for 273 yards and three TDs.
Redshirt-freshman Jason McNair, the nephew of the late Steve McNair, made his UT Martin debut with two fourth quarter touchdowns and 14 carries for 83 yards of rushing.
“The biggest thing is the guy (McNair) can make people miss,” Simpson said.
Sophomores Stephen Shiver and Kenny Jones scored one touchdown each, both catching passes from Thompson in the first half to give the Skyhawks a commanding 21-0 lead at halftime.
UT Martin returns to the gridiron on Sept. 12 at Missouri State.

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